O’side Green Kitchen Opens In Oceanside
The City of Oceanside has spent $1.5 million on a state-of-the-art community kitchen to cut down on food waste, teach sustainable cooking practices and generate meals for hungry families.
Several hundred people showed up to the opening of the Green Oceanside Kitchen. There was plenty of good fresh food, as well as cooking demonstrations and tours of the gleaming new kitchen.
Colleen Foster, Oceanside’s environmental officer, said the idea gained strength after new California state laws went into effect recently, mandating cities to cut down on the 40 percent of the food that currently ends up in the landfill.
“We have one in seven Americans who don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Foster said, “so we need to do better. We shouldn’t be feeding our dumpsters better than we feed our people, and that’s what we aim to solve here at the Green Oceanside Kitchen.”
Oceanside, which aspires to be a zero waste city, used money from its Solid Waste and Recycling fund to build the new kitchen in an existing community center at El Corazon.
The city is working with non-profits like the local Food Banks and volunteer coordinators like Jerilyn White, who co-founded ProduceGood, that rescues fresh produce.
“We do it by going to residents who have backyard trees, and we pick their trees with volunteers, or we go to farms or have farmers donate their produce to us - and 100 percent of what they give to us we give to people who are hungry or to zero waste processors, like the Green Oceanside Kitchen.”
The kitchen will be run by a group called the Oceanside Kitchen Collaborative, who will work with local food banks, local farmers big and small, and with farmers markets.
They have a 500 square foot freezer that’s empty now but will fill up with fresh food that can be turned into things like preserves, canned spaghetti sauce or microwavable meals and distributed to people who need it.
The master of ceremonies at the opening event was Marcela Valladolid, a Food Network host and cookery book author, who lives in Chula Vista.
“This is remarkably unusual to have chefs partner up with the city and create an environment where they can take food waste and create a food product for underserved elements of the community,” said Valladolid. “You don’t see this often. I don’t see it in my community and I wish we had it.”
Foster said the kitchen will also be used to teach people how to cook sustainably and for job training.
“It’s a multi-faceted program for food recovery, culinary training and catering services,” she explained.
Foster said people from several other San Diego cities came to the opening event, to see if it might be something they could also try.