Episode 17: Begging for Change w/Kitchens for Good cofounder Aviva Paley

Episode 17: Begging for Change w/Kitchens for Good cofounder Aviva Paley

““Wasting food is a tragedy, but the real tragedy is that we’re wasting people.””

— Robert Egger

Aviva Paley is a passionate social entrepreneur with professional experience in marrying a social mission with proven business driven strategies. In 2014 Co-Founded Kitchens for Good, a social enterprise food service operation that provides culinary job training for the unemployed, while simultaneously transforming surplus produce into nutritious meals for the hungry.

Aviva serves as the Senior Director overseeing all programs, as well as managing the marketing and fundraising efforts for Kitchens for Good. In just four years the organization has trained 215 individuals for jobs in the culinary industry, rescued 86,591 pounds of surplus food and turned it into 151,227 nutritious meals for hungry San Diegans; and developed a strong social enterprise catering operation that has generated over $3.9 million in earned income and provided an ongoing 59% of the organization’s budget.

Aviva has been chosen for several prestigious awards and fellowships including Forbes 2019 list of 30 under 30 Social Enterprise Leaders, Food Tanks list of 20 Food Leaders Under 40, The UC Global Food Initiative’s 30 under 30 Food Leaders Award, The ROI Fellowship, and the Arianne de Rothschild Fellowship.

Prior to joining Kitchens for Good, Aviva was a Food Justice Fellow at the Leichtag Foundation and Communications Coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future.

We began our conversation by talking about why the work of Kitchens for Good is necessary. We touched on the need to reclaim the 40% of food that is wasted, but also the importance of providing job training for folks coming out of the foster care system or from jail.

“In terms of providing vocational services, if you are someone that is coming out of prison, and homelessness, and foster care, it is very very challenging to get a job. And there is about a 50% unemployment rate among this population. And so it is really critical on a social level but also on a society level to get these people back into the work force… so that we are not investing our money and energy into incarceration and policing and housing homeless individuals, but we are helping to support them to get back on their feet.. to support themselves and become a tax paying member of society.”

We also addressed the tricky balance between pitching in to help make society better by focusing on the urgent issues like soup kitchens or instead focusing on the more system problems that are at the core of the vast number of these various issues.

The more that I do this work, the more I think that we are so far from dealing with the root cause. You know, I got into this to deal with the root cause and now I am like ‘oh my God’ we need to fix the school system, we need to fix the criminal justice system.

For some books recommended by Aviva be sure to check out:

  • “Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All” by Robert Egger

  • “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

“Where do you feel more drawn when it comes to doing good… helping out with the urgent such as soup kitchens or fighting for change in the systemic such as lobbying politicians or community organizing?

Comment below!”

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