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The Rhode Island Community Food Bank

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank distributes food to people in need through a statewide network of 155 member agencies. These agencies include food pantries, meal sites, shelters, youth programs and senior centers.

Each month, 57,000 struggling Rhode Islanders receive food assistance through these agencies. One in three served is a child under the age of 18, and one in five is over the age of 60. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 9.5 million pounds of food.

The Community Kitchen

Community Kitchen is a culinary job-training program for low-income or jobless adults. Chefs teach the full-time, 14-week course in the industrial kitchen and classroom space at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

In each class, twelve to thirteen students participate, gaining cooking skills and learning about food service as well as work-readiness skills to succeed on the job. They also create healthy meals for Kids Cafe which provides afterschool meals to children at community organizations.

Approximately 50 students graduate each year. Since the program began in 1998, hundreds of graduates have been employed by some of the state’s best restaurants as well as hospitals, colleges and schools.

They come from all backgrounds and all walks of life with the common goal of transforming their lives. The program lifts participants up out of poverty with a hand up, not a handout.

When I came to Community Kitchen I was overwhelmed by poverty and feeling hopeless. I had no direction for my life and would work whatever job came my way. Now I’m making the most money I’ve ever made in my life at a job where I learn new things every day and am really proud of the food that we put out. I know that money can’t buy happiness, but being able to live comfortably has relieved so much stress, and now I can focus on paying off my debt and saving for the day I can start my own farm-to-table restaurant.

– Jess, 2015 Community Kitchen graduate

The Food Bank solicits food donations from the public and from the food industry, including supermarkets, food manufacturers and growers. To keep up with the high demand for food assistance, the Food Bank also purchases food at a low cost from wholesalers. Nearly one-third of the food acquired by the Food Bank is purchased through donor contributions.

Equipped with a 77,000-square-foot facility, a fleet of trucks and a professional staff, the Food Bank safely and efficiently collects, stores and distributes large quantities of food from many sources with a focus on healthy nutritious items. Every week, the Food Bank moves nearly 200,000 pounds of food out its doors to agencies that directly serve Rhode Islanders in need.

In addition to food acquisition and distribution the Food Bank operates a number of programs designed to alleviate hunger including community farms, Community Cooking Nutrition Education and Community Kitchen.

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