Good Food Kitchens and local restaurants transform Seattle’s food economy.
The City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is pleased to share that we have partnered with Good Food Kitchens, a local food assistance and economic development program that is a part of the Seattle Good Business Network Good Food Economy initiative. As COVID-19 pandemic recovery continues, HSD’s investment in Good Food Kitchens and Seattle’s food pipeline supports community members facing food insecurity by building a more resilient, sustainable, and just local food economy.
Good Food Kitchens was created to address the needs of the entire local food system. It is not just a food assistance program – one that importantly ensures people in need receive fresh, nutritious, culturally relevant meals – but it is also an economic assistance program, an employment assistance program, and a local food system resilience program.Mariah DeLeo, Good Food Economy Program Manager
The program, created in response to growing food insecurity and the economic impacts of COVID-19 throughout the food system, supports a diverse array of local restaurant and catering partners who are preparing free meals for community members in need. Good Food Kitchens programming takes a holistic approach to service that centers care and dignity for those receiving meals by funding restaurants and caterers who create nourishing and culturally relevant meals that feature locally sourced ingredients. The program simultaneously provides economic relief for restaurants and farmers hit hard by lost revenues and pandemic closures, leading to a more resilient and connected local economy.
Mariah DeLeo, Good Food Economy Program Manager, added, “2020 stay-at-home orders and ongoing COVID-19 related impacts have had a crushing economic effect on restaurants, farms, and our communities. Food insecurity more than doubled to up to 2.2 million individuals in WA state. Good Food Kitchens is a community-led program, inspired by the work of Seattle Community Kitchen Collective and other restaurants and food businesses who stepped up to provide for their communities at a time of increased need. Many have been doing this with the help of donations or otherwise at their own expense for nearly two years now, and we’re so happy to be able to support their efforts financially so that they can continue this vital work.”
The pandemic especially harmed communities of color, and Good Food Kitchens prioritizes partnerships with BIPOC-owned restaurants and catering partners, with 97% of restaurant partners and 81% of local farms being BIPOC-owned. Good Food Kitchens partners include 29 restaurants and caterers, who source in part from 10 local farms, and support 21 different community organizations. Their programming is best demonstrated in this video they posted on their website, which shows the community resilience created between Musang, Oxbow Farm, and SE Seattle Senior Center in Rainier Beach.
Good Food Kitchens primarily funds existing community kitchens with established community meal-provider partnerships or those who provide direct distribution to individuals in need. The program also provides matchmaking resources to community organizations and local producers as needed. This program helps keep restaurant doors open and workers employed safely, while supporting local farms and producers, and building long-term local supply chain relationships. “While the economy reopens, many restaurants are still holding on to accrued debts and unstable dining traffic as the pandemic risks continue to fluctuate, impacts of which reverberate throughout the supply chain,” DeLeo said.
Funding for Good Food Kitchens comes from individual donations as well as public and private funding. HSD’s support comes through the Seattle Rescue Plan, which invests federal Coronavirus Local Fiscal Relief (CLFR) funds in programs and initiatives that strengthen the city’s recovery.
Good Food Kitchen Partners (link to PDF of list):
• That Brown Girl Cooks!
• Ayako & Family
• Frank’s Oyster House
• Feed the People
• Project Feast
• SCIDpda (Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority)
o Gourmet Noodle Bowl
o Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant
o Ton Kiang Barbeque Noodle House
o Dim Sum King
o A Plus Hong Kong Kitchen
o Gan Bei
o Henry’s Taiwan
• Neighborly Needs (a program of Wasat)
o Mugi’s kitchen
o Phresh Eats
o Andrew Hype
• FIN (a program of Global to Local)
o Jazze Afghani Fusion
o Taste of Congo
o Afella Jollof Catering
o Wengay’s Kitchen
o Monique’s Hot Kitchen
o Moyo Kitchen
o Theary Cambodian Foods
• Southeast Seattle Senior Center
• Wa Na Wari
• South Park Community Center
• Seattle Housing Authority
• Food Intentions
• Real Change
• Cham Refugees Community Center
• Tiny House Village
• SCIDpda Residents
• Catholic Community Services
• Partners In Employment
• SHAG residents
• International Rescue Committee
• SNAP Customers at Tukwila Village Farmers Market
• Communities in School – Kent
• UGM KentHope
• Iraqi Community Center of WA
• Direct delivery to community partner
• 21 Acres
• Oxbow Farms
• Namuna Garden
• Lee’s Fresh Produce
• Friendly Hmong Farms
• Sariwa Farm
• Wakulima USA
• Black Farmers Collective / Yes Farm
• Nurturing Roots
• Clean Greens
• Black Star Farmers
Additional Facts and Information:
- Food insecurity reaches more people than ever before: Food insecurity more than doubled to up to 2.2 million individuals in WA state in 20201 and has remained elevated through today. In King County, food insecurity was experienced in 30% of households and of those, 57% had children. Of those surveyed, people of color were 1.5x more likely to be food insecure than their white counterparts, with South Seattle and South King County experiencing a higher prevalence of food insecurity than anywhere else in the county.2
- Restaurants remain in crisis: As of December 2020, over 1,000 restaurants and bars in King County have closed permanently, 90% of those being independent businesses.3 As of 2022, the leisure and hospitality industry has accounted for 50.1% of all jobs lost in Washington since March 2020.4 This has particularly hit communities of color, as workers of color represent 46% of the employed restaurant workforce versus 30% of the employed population in Seattle as a whole5, including many undocumented workers who were unable to access most relief funding. A June 2020 report found that 41% of Black-owned businesses have ceased operations as of April 2020, compared to 17% of White-owned businesses.6
- Local suppliers and farmers are suffering: Independent restaurants redistribute an average of 94% of all revenues back into the economy, 79% of that to local businesses, including farms and food producers.7 In a January 2021 survey, nearly half of all farms surveyed in WA state (48%) experienced revenue loss in 2020 compared to 2019, with the largest impacts related to closure of restaurants and other market closures.8
- Katie Rains, WSDA estimates 2.2 million food insecure individuals in WA, Nov 2020
- UW, WSU: Economic Security and Food Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic: King County, June to July 2020.
- WHA via Eater, Nearly 20 Percent of Seattle Restaurants Closed Permanently During First Six Months of Pandemic, December 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington at a glance
- ROC United, The Great Service Divide, ROC Seattle (July 2020)
- National Bureau of Economic Research, The Impact Of Covid-19 On Small Business Owners: Evidence Of Early-Stage Losses From The April 2020 Current Population Survey, June 2020.
- Sonntag, Viki. Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study. April 2008.
- UW, WSU, WSDA, WA Farm Brief 1 – COVID-19 Impacts & Adaptations Among Washington State Farm Businesses, March 2021.