Over the past few years, community kitchens have gained prominence as a possible means of addressing three social challenges: food security, the need for more sources of fair and accessible employment, and local economic development. This guide is intended to those who wish to found and develop community kitchens, especially for those that are meant to function as social food businesses.
Community kitchens can exist in various forms, and our concern here is with those that are meant to function as social food businesses - anchored in the place in which they were founded and designed to address three central social challenges. The first challenge is attaining food security through a sustainable approach to food; the second is the local economic development of their settlement. The third challenge (which is also an integral part of achieving the second) is to create fair, accessible employment opportunities for the local communities.
The Hura community kitchen is, first and foremost, a local food business that provides hot meals for schoolchildren as part of an Israeli government school meal program. The government school meal program, instituted following the 2005 “daily meals for schoolchildren” Law, is run by the government in an attempt to provide food security for children of underprivileged populations. Today, the program is operated only where the Long School Day and Enrichment Studies law is implemented. In 2012 it fed 170,000 schoolchildren, and in 2013, with the extension of mandatory schooling to ages three and up, the number of children entitled to a hot meal has doubled.
Food is a central element in all our lives, and our relations with it impact our health, our economy and our environment in a variety of ways. For example, we require regular access to a certain amount of food in order to lead a healthy and active life. This regular access to the food we need is known as “food security”. A study published by the National Insurance Institute in 2012 shows that 18.7% of Israel’s population, including 764,000 children, suffers from a lack of food security that ranges from intermediate to severe. This means that one in every five Israelis does not have food security.
Promoting food security is one of the goals of working with sustainable food, but it is not the only goal. Sustainable food is not just about getting people enough to eat, but about thinking more profoundly about the larger implications of the raw materials we choose to use and how we choose to prepare them. This means thinking about things like the food’s nutritional value, its ecological impact on the world throughout its entire life cycle (from the field to the rubbish dump), the working conditions of the people employed in growing, supplying, selling and marketing the food, and the profits throughout the whole food supply chain.
Written and conceived by (in alphabetical order): Gili Baruch, Eran Buchaltzev, Michal Grinberg, Gadir Hani, Shirley Karavani, Asaf Raz