Above: Santa Fe Community College culinary arts program lead and Chef Jerry Dakan (center) with Geronimo restaurant executive chef and part-owner Sllin Cruz (right) and SFCC culinary arts alumnus Nathan Clements (left) volunteer in preparing packaged meals for the World Central Kitchen food distribution project. Photo by Chris Corrie.

To address food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis, SFCC has launched a food distribution program in partnership with World Central Kitchen, led by world-famous chef and humanitarian, Chef José Andrés. Santa Fe Community College Foundation is supporting the program, which helps feed Santa Fe Public Schools and SFCC students and their families as well as local communities. Robert Egger, who is serving as a food security advisor to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, helped develop the partnership. He is a longtime friend and colleague of Chef Andrés, as well as a founding Board member of the World Central Kitchen.

Egger said, “Our goal is to produce and distribute thousands of healthy meals on a daily basis,with a heftydose of traditional New Mexico ingredients. We want to make sure we reach folks in the most rural or challenged communities, where the economic ripples of COVID-19 have been most devastating.” 

“We’re honored to partner with World Central Kitchen in this major effort to reduce hunger in our community and the region, particularly for students and their families,” SFCC President Becky Rowley said.” It’s one of many ways, the college has responded to student needs during this challenging time of COVID-19.

Robert Egger of World Central Kitchen gives a thumbs up as a cart of meals is filled at Santa Fe Community College. Photo by Chris Corrie.

Chef Jennifer Doughty, SFCC adjunct professor, mixes ingredients for one of the prepared meals to be given to those in need. Instructors are leading the teams of Culinary Arts Students as they prepare the meals. Photo by Chris Corrie.

An SFCC volunteer delivers meals to people coming to the drive-up location at Santa Fe Community College. Photo by Chris Corrie.

When the pandemic began, World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization, activated and started to feed people across America by working with local chefs supporting small businesses, buying food from independently owned restaurants, and buying local food.

The SFFC Culinary Arts Program Chef Jerry Dakan and Culinary Arts faculty and students are preparing and distributing thousands of healthy meals daily, with a hefty dose of traditional New Mexico ingredients. To assist with the efforts of SFFC, several New Mexico chefs got involved in this project. Rocky Durham, the Executive Chef at Sunrise Springs, David Sellers, Executive Chef for the Street Food Institute in Albuquerque, Sllin Crews, Executive Chef at Geronimo Restaurant, Jennifer Doughty, adjunct faculty at SFCC, and Sandra Nitschke, the current pastry chef at Santa Fe Community College, are all providing their skills. 

SFCC’s Dean of Trades, Advanced Technologies, and Sustainability, Camilla Bustamante, Ph.D., MPH, is coordinating the efforts with guidance and structure from National Incident Management and Incident Command Systems and in alignment with SFCC’s Community Emergency Response Team.

World Central Kitchen has also brought together Santa Fe County, the Santa Fe Community College, Salvation Army, YouthWorks, and the Street Food Institute to get food prepared and distributed from Edgewood to Española. The free meal distribution started May 5 and will continue weekly until further notice. 

As of May 14, the project has served 17,050 meals to the region’s most vulnerable population. As of May 9, the World Central Kitchen as a whole has served 6,500,000 meals.

This collaboration is genuinely inspiring during these strange and troubled times. A great deal of gratitude goes out to those involved for being on the front lines and feeding those in need. These are true Local Food Heroes.

You can learn more about this project, how you can become a volunteer, and make donations at https://www.sfcc.edu/wck/.

For more information about the World Central Kitchen and their efforts, or to get involved in or learn more about #ChefsForAmericavisit wck.org or find them on Instagram.

Santa Fe Community College and Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen concluded service June 26 and provided more than 50,000 free, fresh meals to the greater Santa Fe community.

Read more Beyond the Plate local food hero storiesLearn more about our partners, Niman Ranch at nimanranch.com.

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