Catalyst Kitchens Produces a Podcast

July 3, 2018

Catalyst Kitchens, the national program of FareStart, helps nonprofit organizations expand or grow their foodservice businesses and job training programs. Catalyst Kitchens uses the FareStart model and scales it up to a national level. 

We caught up with Emily Olsen-Harbich, Catalyst Kitchen’s Member Engagement Manager, to chat about their new venture, a podcast called Catalyst Kitchens Radio.

What is Catalyst Kitchens?

There is a movement underway in kitchens across the United States. Communities are beginning to recognize the importance of not only feeding hungry people, but of helping them to find and keep jobs that will provide pathways out of poverty. We empower individuals to escape the cycle of poverty by helping communities launch and grow foodservice social enterprise and job training programs. We got our start in 2011 and have been growing ever since.

How do organizations become a part of the Catalyst Kitchens network?

Many of the organizations that join our network are those that we’ve helped to develop and launch foodservice social enterprise and job training programs. After our work with them as consultants end, they are often interested in joining the network to stay involved and connected. We also look for existing programs already doing this work out in the field and welcome their involvement. 

What are the benefits of joining the network?

Members of our network consistently report that what they value most is the opportunity to connect with peers at similar organizations. This type of program is unique and very often, the nonprofits we work with are not connected to others in this space. We help to provide a context for their work and the chance to learn from others. Additionally, we do offer a variety of discounts with preferred vendors to help them cut costs.

Why did you all decide to make a podcast?

Catalyst Kitchens has a story to tell. Too often, the human experience can be harsh and uncompromising. That’s why we’re in the business of giving people who have been largely cast aside a second, third or fourth chance to pursue a healthy and productive life.

To measure our impact in this feat, the story of our work and other nonprofits like us is frequently told through a facts-and-figures monologue; numbers, percentages, profits and pie charts strewn across the pages of a glossy report. But does that really tell the whole story?

We hope to seize the opportunity to personalize this incredibly person-centric work—to hold a microphone up to lived experience and provide a window into the minds of daring and inspiring social entrepreneurs and the souls of people in the process of transforming their lives.

We’ll provide a platform for important dialogue and hope to inspire, educate and learn as we go.

What is this podcast about?

This episode follows the story of Anthony Dean as he recalls his experience leaving prison after 8 years. We hear from Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, a Catalyst Kitchens member in Pennsylvania, around how they serve this population of “returning citizens” and why it is so important to create opportunities for these individuals.

Where can people find out more information about Catalyst Kitchens and how can they get involved?

You can listen to Catalyst Kitchens Radio on iTunes or wherever you find your podcasts. Keep an eye out for our next episode that is set to air this summer. To learn more about our work and how you can get involved, visit our website.