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Chefs' Philanthropy

What do a Mexican arts museum, kids cafes and a hospitality high school have in common? They all receive philanthropic support from FoodFit Chefs. 'Tis the season of giving. Here's what five chefs scattered across the nation are doing for charity and how you can help.

Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, KY

Nancy Russman is Executive Chef for Dare to Care Food Bank, which helps the needy in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. She was nominated for a James Beard Humanitarian Award in 1999. Dare to Care's Kids Cafe program serves a hot, nutritious meal to hungry children three nights a week at nine different locations. The organization survives on donations and pledges to supply $17 worth of food for every $1 received.

How you can help: Chef Nancy would love recipe ideas for a cookbook she's working on that only uses the ingredients that typically come in a food box. Contact her at or by mail at 1038 Samuel Street, Louisville, KY 40204

Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago, IL

In Chicago, Chef Rick Bayless, who runs the hugely popular, cantina-style Mexican restaurant Frontera Grill and its upscale sister Topolobampo, devotes time to the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. Its mission is to educate people about Mexican culture and art. "It's so much more than the stereotypical cuisine," says Bayless.

How you can help: Donations are welcome and Chicagoans are encouraged to volunteer. The museum is preparing for a big gala in 2001 to celebrate the opening of a new wing. To become a supporter, visit their website for more information.

Marriott Hospitality High School, Washington, DC

Respected Washington Chef Bob Kinkead is back in the classroom. He's on the board of trustees for the Marriott Hospitality High School. It's a fledgling charter school with a hospitality bent. The founders hope that it will open young persons' eyes to the many rewarding opportunities available in the food service industry.

How you can help: The school is looking for mentors for the students. Vendors are welcome to donate products, expertise or money. For more information call 202-737-6337.

Food Runners, San Francisco, CA

Ever wonder what happens to the leftovers at restaurants? In San Francisco, it doesn't go to waste. Food Runners, founded by Chef Mary Risley, collects some 10 tons of food a week from the city's businesses and distributes it to neighborhood shelters and feeding programs. Risley came up with idea 14 years ago at her Tante Marie's Cooking School. The group is made up of 300 volunteers and one paid truck driver and is always looking for extra hands. Financial contributors are rewarded with food-related goodies ranging from an apron to dinner cooked by a well-known chef.

How you can help: You can become either a Runner or a Food Donor or you can make a financial contribution by e-mailing Food Runners at or calling 415-929-1866.

Farm to Philly Network, Philadelphia, PA

In the city of brotherly love, the focus is on the food chain. The Farm to Philly Network is working with farmers, chefs and retailers to increase consumer access to traditionally-farmed, local foods. Explains Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Cafe, "The Farm to Philly Network is proposing an alternative food system for the Greater Philadelphia area by creating the critical links that connect the consumer to the farmer, and the farmer to the city." A membership organization is still in the works.

How you can help: For more information on this and Judy's other community projects visit her website.


Many other FoodFit chefs contribute their time to worthy causes such as gardens for schools, support for farmers, meals for homebound individuals and hunger relief. Visit their individual websites for more information.


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