Supporting resilient communities, one meal at a time

New California culinary center creates 150 living-wage jobs, distributes 50,000 meals daily

By Leah Potter

Fabio Edwards, lead farmer at Dig Deep Farms, says he’s passionate about providing families with healthy, affordable food. (Dmitryi Khlynin/Dig Deep Farms)
Edwards supervises harvesting, weeding, watering, and managing garden beds. (Dmitryi Khlynin/Dig Deep Farms)

Supporting resilient communities

Dig Deep Farms is supplying fresh, seasonal, locally produced sustainable ingredients from arugula to zucchini to the new Union City Food Culinary Center, which will open its doors Jan. 16. The center will deliver 50,000 ready-to-eat meals each day to institutions throughout northern California. It is already increasing contracting opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs of color.

The facility features a net-zero greenhouse gas CO2 refrigeration system and energy-efficient cooking equipment. (Tara Marchant/Emerald Cities Collaborative)
This storyboard is from an Anchors in Resilient Communities strategic planning meeting in December 2017. (Tara Marchant/Emerald Cities Collaborative)
Learn more at the Anchors in Resilient Communities website.

Bolstering community health and wealth

Kaiser Permanente has contracted with the new center to produce and distribute 2.5 million patient meals every year as a part of the health system’s goal to purchase 100% sustainable and local food by 2025. The health system also invested in the culinary center’s construction by providing a $2 million loan guarantee grant. Once the center pays off the loans, the $2 million will revert into a community fund to support local food business development.

Stakeholders and advocates for a healthier and more resilient East Bay gather at a community learning session. (Tara Marchant/Emerald Cities Collaborative)
Anchors in Resilient Communities staff stand in front of the new Dig Deep Farms commercial kitchen facility in Alameda County. (Lucia Sayre/Health Care Without Harm)

Creating living-wage jobs

Operated by FoodService Partners (FSP), the facility will create up to 150 living-wage, union jobs. FSP has been providing meals for Kaiser Permanente’s northern California facilities for over 17 years. Michelle Barclay, FSP’s general manager, said the new culinary center has helped FSP establish new relationships with local businesses, employment agencies, and local farmers in Union City.

FoodService Partners’ management team (left to right): Jay Brinkley, corporate director of culinary services, Michelle Barclay, general manager of the culinary center in Union City, and Steve Slocum, executive director of operations, visit the new facility. (Bob Dunn/FSP)
Kevin Warner of Faber Street Foodworks (left) and Lisa Tran of ARC (right) stand in front of the new culinary center. (Tara Marchant/Emerald Cities Collaborative)
Dig Deep Farms is working to support resilient food systems and communities. (Dmitryi Khlynin/Dig Deep Farms)

Taking action

Edwards, lead farmer at Dig Deep Farms, said the ARC model both promotes local entrepreneurship and healthy communities, and Dig Deep Farms and its partners are setting an example as a resilient food system in California.

Located in California? Learn how you can purchase meals from the center and help improve your community’s health and well-being.

Located outside of California? ARC is a nationwide effort with many local pilots and a replicable model. Learn more and start building resilience in your community.

For more information, read this case study on the Union City Culinary Center project, which highlights the many financial and community partners who made it possible.

Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so the sector reduces its environmental footprint and becomes a leader in the global movement.