The taco salad is a big hit, and people are still asking about the baby back ribs. When Casey Hues takes his volunteers to see who's eating the meals they cook, it makes a lasting, and sometimes haunting, impression.
Through their work at the Community Kitchen, they serve more than 5,000 meals a day to hungry children and seniors — and the demand is increasing. "It's a pretty big problem, and it's amazing to be part of this, to keep in mind what the need is," Hues says. "One in five children in Richmond is food-insecure. Sometimes this is the only meal they get all day. It's tough but it keeps you focused."
Hues has run the community kitchen for a year and a half, and in his days off he volunteers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, helping grow the foods that will become part of those talked-about meals. Nearly 10,000 pounds of Ginter produce made its way to the Community Kitchen this year, and Hues says his staff and volunteers must be adept at coming up with meals that are scratch-made, not institutional, and that respond to whatever food donations are coming in.
The Godwin High School graduate took the culinary arts program at Hermitage Technical Center, studied dietary management at the University of Florida and is involved with events highlighting local food.
Even when the ingredient is cabbage, "Casey finds a unique and creative way to put things together," says FeedMore's Conchetta Yonaitis, "and kids are trying it and liking it. He's big on food quality and diversity and he far exceeds our expectations."