Building community with a love of food

What do Kitchen Share Northeast and the Northeast Portland Tool Library have in common? They are both partners in the new Leaven Community center, merging sustainability, livability and a whole lot more.

Kitchen Share is a network of kitchen tool libraries that offers equipment, skills, traditions and food to borrow and share with their members. They offer dehydrators, canning equipment, ice cream makers, juicers, mixers, bread makers, durable dishes and more.

Kitchen Share builds community through the sharing of skills and food. One Portland resident and community volunteer, Gabbi Haber, got involved with Kitchen Share Northeast because of her love of food and cooking.

“Food is such a powerful way to connect with people, and when we cook and eat together, we not only form social connections, but also learn from each other's techniques, histories and life stories. I first started volunteering with Kitchen Commons, a nonprofit founded by my friend and Kitchen Share Northeast co-founder Jocelyn. I helped organize a community tamale sale and a community tomato canning day which was fun, but I wanted to go beyond community events and address some of the infrastructure obstacles to preserving, cooking for large groups, or just being adventurous in the kitchen.”

According to Gabbi, Kitchen Share Northeast:

  • Saves money, by offering tools so you don't need to buy them yourself, and by providing preserving equipment so members can take advantage of seasonal bounty.
  • Connects people with new ways of cooking, whether it's exploring how to use a new tool or making something from scratch you've never made before (like pasta or yogurt!).
  • Encourages people to cook at home by making new resources available.
  • Helps people gather their communities around them, by providing free dishware and cooking and serving tools for big events (like weddings, fundraisers and birthday parties).
  • Gives items a second chance and reduces waste since members can donate unwanted or unneeded tools and equipment instead of throwing away.

Gabbi’s involvement with Kitchen Share Northeast includes teaching workshops and building connections with other community groups.

“It's so much fun to be surrounded by people who are excited about making food, and ready to learn new ways to enjoy food. We are all constantly learning and have something to teach each other. A pretty great Saturday morning is when everyone is standing around with flour on their hands and tomato sauce on their noses, chatting away with people they just met an hour ago.”

Aside from teaching workshops, she enjoys collaborating with the Neighborhood Gleaners. They're an all-volunteer organization that collects leftover food from the Hollywood Farmers Market and distributes it to low-income seniors at the Hollywood Senior Center. Every year they host a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors and anyone else who wants to come, and borrow dishes and tools from Kitchen Share Northeast in order to do it.

“It makes me happy to know that this thing I helped create is making it easier for other volunteer organizations to build community and make people's lives better. It's very satisfying to give back to the community, and it's a great way to make new friends. At the end of the day you know that you've done your part to make your little patch of the world a little better for you and your neighbors."

Are you interested in sharing your kitchen knowledge? Or ready to take a food workshop? Join Kitchen Share Northeast or Southeast!

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