10 years ago, Joy’s Kitchen started as a family project and over the last decade has grown into a family all its own. Founder and Executive Director of Joy’s Kitchen, Kathy Stanley began this journey alongside her father with a desire to build intentional community while helping the earth and feeding its people.
In Colorado alone, 1 out of 5 people is food insecure. Meanwhile, in our state, 42% of the food in retail stores becomes waste in landfills due mostly to overproduction and mass consumerism. When you do the math, “it makes no sense” says Stanley, “there really is no reason for anyone to go hungry.”
It’s no secret that America has a waste problem and it’s certainly impacting climate change. Mass-production of human food causes a chain reaction in our stores. Retail outlets can only stock so much product before another shipment is brought in to replace it. And when fresh produce isn’t perfect looking, or a product doesn’t sell as it was expected, consumers drive a market of mass production and thus, waste. Joy’s aims to save as much of this food as possible before it ends up in landfills.
By building partnerships with retail outlets, Joy’s fleet of trucks picks up hundreds of pounds of fresh food each morning from stores that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. With the help of volunteers, the food is processed and sorted, and in the afternoon the doors open to the general public to shop the rows of fresh vegetables and fruits, meats, breads, dairy products, and more. Without people to eat the food that Joy’s saves, “we would be wasting about 3.7 million pounds of food a year that comes through Joy’s Kitchen” Stanley says.
Here, community building goes hand in hand with nourishing its people. On a typical day at Joy’s, you will be met with a group of volunteers who are as invested in each other as they are in helping to fight hunger and reduce waste. But Joy’s isn’t just about nourishing through food. “It became really apparent when we started this, that people need more than just food to survive and thrive. If we build intentional community. . . we are able to step into healing others in a way that doesn’t only support their food needs, but supports their emotional needs and community needs as a whole” said Stanley.
One misconception Stanley wants people to understand is that while canned-food drives sound like an easy way to support when it comes to fighting hunger, supporting the industry creating the waste is extremely damaging to non-profits like Joy’s. With hundreds of pounds of fresh, beautiful, nutrient-dense food coming through the doors at Joy’s every day, shelf-stable items like canned goods are rarely needed to build a nutrient-rich meal.
While Joy’s does not take or report data on race, socio-economic status, or location, it makes it much more difficult to find state and government-funded grants for financial support. Stanley says she wants the community to know that “donating funds is critical to keep this kind of movement going.” There is also no limit to shopping at Joy’s. It is encouraged to shop for yourself, your family, your neighbor, or simply someone you know.
“Tangible action is supporting us with funds and manpower.”Kathy Stanely
Stanley started this journey 10 years ago in the wake of losing her mother. Sadly, her father passed away in 2020 during the Covid-19 Pandemic after helping Stanley build this mission and community from the ground up. “Joy’s Kitchen has absolutely become my family,” says Stanley, “there is not one day where I have come into Joy’s where I feel like I am coming to work. . .it has been a beautiful project.”
And when you walk into Joy’s you can certainly feel the community, the family, and the love that has been built.
- For every dollar a typical consumer spends to purchase a canned item, non-profits like Joy’s can purchase 10 shelf-stable canned goods.
- Joy’s Kitchen serves around 5,000 families each month. Joy’s employs 5 members on staff, and brings in approximately 420 volunteers per month.
- According to Hunger Free Colorado (https://hungerfreecolorado.org/facts/):
- 33% of Coloradans lack access to reliable nutritious food
- 16% of children in Colorado are not getting adequate nutrition because of financial constraints
- 20% of Coloradan adults report having to regularly skip meals or eat less because of financial constraints
- In America, it’s estimated that “one-third of all food grown for human consumption in the US never makes it to someone’s stomach.” SOURCE
- In America, it’s estimated that 42 million people are experiencing food insecurity.
- Volunteering – Sign up for a volunteer shift at Joy’s
- By spreading the news
- Educating yourself on waste systems in America
- Donating to Joy’s Kitchen
If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, you can contact Joy’s Kitchen Here