Saint Paul College has awarded Kitchen Coalition its 2024 Community Partner of the Year award. This innovative program, launched by Second Harvest Heartland during the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided nutritious meals to those in need and offered valuable learning experiences for Saint Paul College culinary students.  

Kitchen Coalition Named Saint Paul College's 2024 Community Partner of the Year
Joe Kunitz Accepting an Award at Saint Paul College

“This program’s success is a testament to the dedication of Chef Jason Ross and Joe Kunitz of Second Harvest Heartland’s Kitchen Coalition,” said Chef Sara Johannes, Culinary Arts Faculty at Saint Paul College. “Their commitment to both nourishing our community and providing educational opportunities is truly inspiring.”  

Echoing this sentiment, Kitchen Coalition representatives expressed their gratitude for the partnership and its impact:  

From shredding fresh cabbage for coleslaw to plating and packaging Kitchen Coalition meals for distribution, Chef Jason’s students not only learn meal preparation skills but also feed their fellow students,” said Robin Manthie, Managing Director of Kitchen Coalition. “They even weave elements of their own heritage into their culinary creations, fostering a sense of cultural exchange.”  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the food service industry was devastated, there was an increased need for food in our community, so Second Harvest Heartland launched Kitchen Coalition. This program transformed shuttered kitchens into production centers for nutritious meals, keeping unemployed staff working and distributing freshly prepared meals across the Twin Cities.  Saint Paul College’s Culinary Arts Department joined Kitchen Coalition in 2020 to produce 300 meals a week, which were distributed initially to nearby non-profits and now are distributed through the Jason Twombly Food Pantry on our campus, serving students, staff, and community members.    

Under the guidance of Chef Jason Ross, students have gained real-world experience preparing meals from recovered ingredients, developing essential culinary skills and a sense of community responsibility. The partnership has also directly addressed food insecurity among Saint Paul College students, with 45% reporting limited access to nutritional food in a recent survey. This partnership in producing and distributing meals highlights the very best of our college – meeting student needs, teaching life-changing skills, and nourishing our community.