The Center for Women in Politics recently held its monthly Women Business Leader Breakfast Series at Chatham University. The focus of May’s breakfast discussion was “The Business of Food: Accessibility, Affordability, and Capacity Building” and let the speakers talk about what it takes to run a successful business in the food industry. Jennifer Flanagan, one of the featured businesswomen, spoke about Springboard Kitchens, of which she is the Chief Business Officer. Springboard Kitchens is a local Pittsburgh business that provides both workforce training for those who may struggle to find jobs, such as those released from prison, and fresh lunches that have been made from scratch for local schools and homeless shelters. What is unique about the lunches provided by Springboard Kitchens is that they use rescued food as ingredients. Rescued food is taken from grocery stores when the produce is near the sell-by date and would otherwise be sent to a landfill as waste, even though the produce is still fine to eat. Springboard Kitchens takes the rescued food that has been donated to the food bank, since the produce cannot be stored and must be used immediately, and sorts the useable from the unusable. They then prepare it into lunches that will be served in schools and homeless shelters locally. In schools, they also teach nutrition education to the students based on what they are serving.
The workforce training that Springboard Kitchens provides helps those who may have difficulty acquiring a job find work in the food industry. When speaking of the industry, Jennifer Flanagan said that it was very accepting and leveling by giving those that are trained at Springboard Kitchens a chance despite their background and history. Those who train at Springboard Kitchens not only learn kitchen basics and skills, but they also learn about preparing and stabilizing rescued food and preparing meals that are sustainable for the environment. By training people in sustainable food preparation methods and teaching children in schools the importance of healthy food choices, Springboard Kitchens is making a difference in the environment one food rescue at a time.