These talented chefs are using a surplus of food to feed those in need

Jul 16 2021, 7:20 pm

Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.

In a city like Vancouver, it can be difficult to reconcile our love for amazing local restaurants, while also knowing there are many living here who are food insecure.

It would take a truly dedicated and knowledgeable person or group to take on the challenge of embracing our love for food while making a difference in marginalized groups.

Starting out as a kitchen consulting company for small and medium sized non-profits, helping them with their food programs, ONO Kitchen saw where they could help in other ways.

A handful of chefs used the surplus of food they were seeing to donate to the vulnerable people of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Even after this initiative, they still saw a massive food surplus and decided to help other charities and organizations feed those who were hungry.

Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946, like local food creators. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses, we talked to TJ Conwi about lending a helping hand in a difficult time.

“Knowing that with my skills as an accomplished chef I not only have the ability to create delicious food, but I also the power to help with Vancouver’s food insecurity and food waste,” Conwi told Daily Hive, speaking about his inspiration behind the idea for Ono Kitchen.

When this team realized they continued to see a food surplus, they started helping out other charities that were already assisting Indigenous, women and elders, immigrants in need, vulnerable youth, as well as members of the LGBTQ2 community that were in need.

“One year later we are still at it!” Conwi told us. “To date we have contributed 250,000 meals to fight food insecurity in Vancouver and has diverted up to seven tonnes of surplus food to help curb food waste while now employing laid-off chefs due to restrictions and restaurant closures.

“I am now in the process of starting a social enterprise, selling frozen taco meal kits and other ready-to-eat items that will sell to specialty stores and other online service. This will help me be able to keep producing meals for the community by using the profit and funding  our initiatives,” he added.

The ONO Kitchen aims to cook and create delicious meals for your business, in your home, and for the community. These talented chefs are developing some incredible west coast comfort food cuisine.

Expect to have delicious Chef-made meals that not only nourish your foodie cravings but also nourishes the community,” said Conwi. When asked what the most popular items to try were, Conwi obliged. “A tie between Plant based Chipotle Jackfruit and Beef Barbacoa Taco.”

Vancouver is a city that loves food and we are treated to so many incredible options. With so many local spots to choose from, it’s so important for us as a community to support organizations like ONO Kitchen.

“Not only that they can have great meals to bring to picnics or at home with little effort, they will also in turn help vulnerable people in their community gain access to nutritious chef-made food.

Knowing that there are so much food waste because of our current food system but at the same time there are people in Vancouver that still don’t have access to adequate food/nutrition,” he added.

Initially, ONO Kitchen started feeding local children and their families that rely on the school meal program by giving them five meals per week. This allowed them to have quality meals, especially during a global pandemic when their health was at the highest risk. This was when they were working with LunchLAB Chefs for Families.

With this single initiative they helped over 300 families last summer. ONO Kitchen has been helping so many in the Vancouver community, and to do our part, we just need to eat their unbelievably great food.

Daily Hive

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