Bridging the Opportunity Divide

This Kitchen Serves Up More Than Just Meals; It’s Giving Hope

January 30, 2015
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This Kitchen Serves Up More Than Just Meals; It’s Giving Hope
A typical Town Kitchen meal will consist of an entrée, a vegetable side dish, and two locally produced artisan food items. Town Kitchen
Underprivileged youth make up the majority of employees.

The Town Kitchen in Oakland, Calif., appears to be your average food-delivery business, but it’s far from that. Not only is its menu of sandwiches and salads unique, so are its employees: They’re all underprivileged youth.

Its owner, Sabrina Mutukinsa, came up with the idea after operating a cupcake company and mentoring low-income kids. Combing her two great loves — food and empowering youth — she created The Town Kitchen, where the daily special is opportunity for a better life.

Since The Town Kitchen opened for business in early 2014, Mutukisna and her head chef, Jefferson Sevilla, have been hiring youth on an event-by-event basis. By the summer, however, they plan to have a full-time staff of 43. Mutukisna hopes to offer college credit to participants.

Not only do workers, ages 15 to 24, learn to deliver food efficiently, but they also receive other marketable skills, such as web design and bookkeeping. And while Sevilla handles all of the cooking right now, once the employees achieve their food safety certification, Mutukisna plans to have them do almost all of the prep work, reports the East Bay Express.

“We want them to have transferrable skills, not just start a jam company,” Mutukisna says.

The for-profit business’s success depends upon the quality of the food and the performance of the workers, so Mutukisna has high expectations, but she’s also hoping to garner the support and goodwill of the community because of The Town Kitchen’s mission of helping others.

So the next time you’re looking for lunch, find out what a difference your dollar can make.

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