The Giving Kitchen: James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award

“Giving Kitchen for us is really more about stability for food service than anything else.  And within the financial grant program we’ve been able to award over $2.5 million to over 1,600 members of our community in the state of Georgia.” Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, co-founder of Giving Kitchen

In 2012, Jen Hidinger-Kendrick’s husband, Chef Ryan Hidinger was diagnosed with late stage terminal cancer of the gallbladder. Friends, family and the Atlanta community rallied behind her family and raised over $300,000.  Jen said that this outpouring gave Ryan a peace of mind and that the community’s overwhelming response to the Hidingers’ crisis set the intent, beliefs and values for the Giving Kitchen. “Tragedy hit and crisis hit for us.  But what happened after that really is what changed the trajectory we believe of the restaurant and food service industry of what we are seeing now with the work we are doing with Giving Kitchen.”  Giving Kitchen is an Atlanta based non-profit that offers stability including financial aid to food service workers in times of crisis such as sickness, injury, death of immediate family member, and national disaster in addition to other programs.   And Giving Kitchen is the 2019 James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year.  

Bryan Shroeder, the Executive Director of Giving Kitchen shares that “on average its about $1,800 that someone needs to make it through a crisis.” In addition to providing financial aid, Giving Kitchen offers a referral network resource to its grant recipients that helps connect them to food pantries and other services that are needed during this critical time.  Giving Kitchen has started to organize nationally relevant self care and stability resources programs that can be accessed on the website by anyone in food service before a crisis happens.  In addition, QPR (Question Persuade Refer) training, a suicide prevention resource program is now available for free for any restaurant in the United States to access on Giving Kitchen’s website. Usually the cost is $30 per person.

It’s important to help care for the people who help care for us in the restaurants.   You can help provide funds and stability to someone in crisis.  Please donate or volunteer here.


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