Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

By MASSIMO BOTTURA

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE of restaurants—what chefs will be cooking in the years to come—the first thing that comes to mind is garbage: day-old bread, potato peels, fish bones, wilted vegetables. We currently produce enough food to feed the world’s 7.3 billion people, and yet 795 million are hungry, according to the United Nations. The reason is waste: a 2013 U.N. report reveals that 550 million tons of food are discarded by distributors, supermarkets and consumers every year. The U.S. and EU have pledged to reduce food waste in the next 10 to 15 years. This is where chefs come in.

This year the 20th anniversary of my restaurant, Osteria Francescana, coincided with the Expo Milano 2015. In an effort to address the expo’s ambitious theme—“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”—Francescana collaborated with the Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana and the culture maven Davide Rampello to turn a renovated theater in the Greco quarter into a think tank and experimental soup kitchen. This collaboration was baptized Refettorio Ambrosiano after Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. The word Refettorio has roots in the Latin word refice, to restore, and Refettorio Ambrosiano runs on salvaged waste and volunteer labor, including stints from the best chefs in the world.

In May, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park made a sweet pudding from day-old, discarded bread. In June, René Redzepi of Noma turned black bananas into mouth-watering banana bread. In July, Daniel Patterson of Coi produced the quintessential minestrone from a crate of dismal-looking vegetables. Osteria Francescana made weekly broths from vegetable scraps and peelings. The guests were not fine-dining regulars, but a selection of Milan’s homeless community. What surprised us all was just how fabulous salvaged food can become.

Every Refettorio Ambrosiano recipe is an ode to imperfection with revolutionary potential; these dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. For families in need, it’s a way to bring dignity back to the table—dignity based not on the quality of ingredients, but on the quality of ideas.

Chefs have greater social responsibility than ever before. Celebrity status has allowed some of us to become ambassadors of culture and advocates for artisans, ethics and change. But have we spent enough time and energy considering the waste that results from our work? Imagine a school where young chefs are taught to be as resourceful with ingredients as they are with ideas. Imagine chefs embracing imperfect, discarded food and treating it with the same reverence they would a rack of lamb or ripe tomato. Imagine changing the perceptions about what is beautiful, nutritious and worthy of being shared.

Cooking is a call to act. At its best it can unite, revive and restore. As populations grow and food supplies are threatened, we are called to educate and spread ideas that will be the motivational force behind the evolution of our kitchens, our communities and our future. Let us begin by turning our waste—in our homes and our restaurants—into food that’s ethical and delicious. Because something salvaged is something gained.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chef-massimo-bottura-on-why-the-future-of-food-is-in-our-trash-1449506020

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Every Tuesday night, Joan Cheever hits the streets of San Antonio to feed the homeless. In a decade, she’s rarely missed a night. But on a recent, windy Tuesday, something new happens.

The police show up.

“He says we have to have a permit,” Cheever says. “We have a permit. We are a licensed nonprofit food truck.”

Cheever runs a nonprofit called the Chow Train. Her food truck is licensed by the city. On this night, she has loaded the back of a pickup with catering equipment and hot meals and driven to San Antonio’s Maverick Park, near a noisy downtown highway.

Officer Mike Marrota asks to see her permit.

Documents are produced, but there’s a problem: The permit is for the food truck, not her pickup. Cheever argues that the food truck, where she cooks the meals, is too big to drive down the alleyways she often navigates in search of the homeless.

“I tell you guys and the mayor, that we have a legal right to do this,” Cheever says to Marrota.

Marrota asks, “Legal right based on what?”

The Freedom of Religion Restoration Act, Cheever tells him, or RFRA, a federal law which protects free exercise of religion.

The officer isn’t buying it. He writes her a ticket, with a fine of up to $2,000, making clear that San Antonio tickets even good Samaritans if they don’t comply with the letter of the law.

The National Coalition for the Homeless says upwards of 30 cities have some kind of ban on distributing free food for the homeless. Many, including San Antonio, want to consolidate services for the homeless in one location — often, away from tourists.

Does invoking RFRA give Cheever and other good Samaritans license to ignore the law?

“That is not, actually, an easy question to answer,” says Michael Ariens, law professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. “RFRA applies when the government of any type substantially burdens an individual’s free exercise of religion.”

The key phrase is “substantially burdens,” Ariens says.

“RFRA doesn’t allow any do-gooder to simply to do whatever they wish — to make a law onto themselves without interference from local or state government,” he says.

Cheever complains that San Antonio has joined other cities in turning feeding the homeless into a crime.

On the next Tuesday night, Cheever is back in Maverick Park, risking another ticket. She could even be arrested.

But this time there are no police. Cheever and her Chow Train volunteers are greeted by dozens of supporters and homeless people.

“It warms my heart, but it doesn’t surprise me, because the community is behind me and they are behind every other nonprofit that does what I do,” she says.

In late June, Cheever says, she will challenge the ticket in court.

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/13/413988634/when-feeding-the-homeless-runs-afoul-of-the-law

By the end of 2015, the chronically homeless population of Utah may be virtually gone. And the secret is quite simple:

Give homes to the homeless.

“We call it housing first, employment second,” said Lloyd Pendleton, director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force.

Even Pendleton used to think trying to eradicate homelessness using such an approach was a foolish idea.

“I said: ‘You guys must be smoking something. This is totally unrealistic,'” Pendleton said.

But the results are hard to dispute.

In 2005, Utah was home to 1,932 chronically homeless. By April 2015, there were only 178 — a 91 percent drop statewide.

“It’s a philosophical shift in how we go about it,” Pendleton said. “You put them in housing first … and then help them begin to deal with the issues that caused them to be homeless.”

Chronically homeless persons — those living on the streets for more than a year, or for four times in three years, and have a debilitating condition — make up 10 percent of Utah’s homeless population but take up more than 50 percent of the state’s resources for the homeless.

The Homeless Task Force reported it costs Utah $19,208 on average per year to care for a chronically homeless person, including related health and jail costs. Pendleton found that to house and provide a case worker for the same person costs the state about $7,800.

“It’s more humane, and it’s cheaper,” Pendleton said. “I call them ‘homeless citizens.’ They’re part of our citizenry. They’re not them and us. It’s ‘we.'”

For six years, Suzi Wright and her sons, DJ and Brian, shuttled among friend’s homes, a van and the Salt Lake City homeless shelter.

After Utah gave Wright a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, she got a job as a cleaning supervisor at her apartment complex.

“It makes you feel a lot better about yourself, just being able to support your family,” Wright said.

Those given apartments under the Housing First program pay rent of 30 percent of their income or $50, whichever is greater.

Army veteran Don Williams had been sleeping under a bush for 10 years when Utah offered him an apartment.

When he realized they weren’t joking, he “jumped for joy,” he said, laughing. “It was a blessing. A real blessing.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/utahs-strategy-homeless-give-them-homes-n352966