When Judi Shils and I first became acquainted last year, her passion and dedication to her cause nearly leapt right off of our ubiquitous Zoom screens. She spoke with quiet conviction about inequality and injustice in our food systems, on food insecurity in our children’s schools, and of the disconnect between our wealthiest Bay Area populations, with easy access to high quality organic food, and their own underserved neighbors.
It was with this in mind that Judi and her co-founders started the Conscious Kitchen. Designed as a partnership between schools, their kitchens, and producers, Conscious Kitchen strives to provide fresh, local, organic, seasonal and nutritious food to public school students, many of whom rely on public assistance for meals. Since its start in 2013, this collaboration has expanded from one school in Marin City, CA to four communities across the Bay Area.
Even in the midst of the past year’s COVID crisis, Conscious Kitchen was able to pivot quickly and with purpose, moving from providing onsite school lunches to building family-sized weekly food boxes. The figures are staggering— alongside local producers and community partners, CK’s volunteers packed and distributed over 5 million pounds of organic food in the Bay Area. This equates to 12 million meals for children.
Today, Conscious Kitchen sources, packs and distributes 23,000 food boxes each week, filled with entirely organic ingredients and translating to a mind-boggling 644,000 meals.
I spoke to Judi again a few months ago. She told me a story about her search to source organic, grass-fed beef for these boxes, and how a late-night call to a local producer not only secured food for these families, but offered a lifeline to the ranchers who were struggling to stay afloat in the pandemic. We at Cowgirl believe in collaboration as a core value, and see Judi and her work at Conscious Kitchen as a shining example of what it looks like to band together for a common cause—and have direct, material impact on the communities they serve.
We are proud to support the Conscious Kitchen through the sales of our Good Neighbors Collection—they are indeed a very good neighbor!