Local Chef Brings Awareness to Child Hunger
Beth Jones has been a chef for nearly 20 years. She’s worked at a variety of Twin Cities restaurants and is currently Executive Chef at the University of Minnesota’s Campus Club. She grew up in South Saint Paul in a family that loved good food and restaurants. Yet it wasn’t until she’d been away and moved back to the area with her two children that she started seeing food in terms of those who have it and those who don’t.
“It wasn't until my kids started school, and I began hearing the statistics on hunger right in my community that my eyes were opened,” she admits. “I have been fortunate to have the luxury of being able to drive to grocery stores my whole life, but I now realize that many of my neighbors and children's friends are personally affected by hunger.”
This realization was so profound that Jones felt compelled to act. She started by asking how she could get involved with the school lunch program at Kaposia Education Center, where her two sons are enrolled. Then she reached out to colleagues at The Good Acre, a nonprofit organization that helps farmers cultivate healthy crops and gain access to new markets, where she teaches cooking classes. One connection led to another and now she’s responsible for writing recipes for Second Harvest Heartland’s monthly Food + You food distributions. The recipes, which are handed out to families at distribution sites, incorporate many of the foods being distributed.
Jones said she’s glad her eyes are now open to the problem of hunger in her community but wishes others would also open their eyes.
“If a person like me, who works with food every day, can be blind to the need in my own community, then it's likely that there are thousands of people in our state who are failing to see the full scale of the problem,” she said. “Awareness is key to bringing money and activism to the problem. And our elected officials need to do a better job of seeing hunger right in our backyards.”
According to Jones, child hunger isn’t a resource problem. It’s an access problem.
“This country produces more food than we can possibly eat with an obscene amount going to waste,” she said. “Better nutrition and access to food can be achieved through programs like Food + You, but these programs need more dollars, ideas and volunteers to feed children.”
Jones was thrilled to see that Food + You offers not just food, but nutritious food to help children and families be healthier. Jones wants to teach people how to cook healthier, so they can better feed their families.
“Cooking from scratch has become a dying art in America,” she said. “It's vital that people know the healthiest, more economical ways to use the foods that are being distributed. That’s where I can help.”
You Can Help
One in eight kids in Minnesota is hungry. Child hunger impacts everyone and your support helps connect local kids to the food they need to thrive.