City of Good is a local nonprofit that was created during the onset of the COVID pandemic. It was like a bridge between local schoolchildren and local culinary workers and farms. It expanded over time and the nonprofit now is focused more on highlighting food insecurity and getting meals to anyone who needs them. On top of that, City of Good has recently partnered with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and will be providing food there this performance season.
Boise Weekly interviewed Britt Udesen, executive director of City of Good via email to learn more about its inception — and how this new partnership will work for both entities.
For those who aren’t familiar, please tell us about City of Good and how it came about.
City of Good was founded in March of 2020, as restaurants and schools were closing. We worked to unite restaurants and growers with neighbors experiencing food insecurity within a sustainable and mutually beneficial system what we like to call a circle of good. Our goal was to both provide job security for those who prepare our food while also delivering nutritious, locally-sourced meals for those in need.
We launched Weekend Fuel Kits, in partnership with the Boise School District, and delivered these to students who might not have easy access to food over the weekend. Each kit contains six ready-to-eat meals, prepared by some of Boise’s best restaurants, and using a minimum of 30% of locally-sourced food.
As the pandemic has evolved, so, too, has our service. We continue to provide meals to students experiencing food insecurity but are also delivering meals to Afghan refugees resettling in Boise and guests of Interfaith Sanctuary who are COVID positive. Within the next few months, we will be delivering locally-sourced produce to school pantries, and Fuel Kits to seniors. As of today, we have delivered more than 70,000 meals.
This year City of Good is the official and exclusive food and beverage provider for Café Shakespeare for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. There’s never been a nonprofit in this role — how did the partnership happen?
Some of our partner restaurants were approached by the Festival and reached out to us with a crazy idea. What if City of Good took this on?
After a quick conversation within the board, we jumped at the chance! One of our long-term goals is to create a center for good in which we can gather people around the idea of a sustainable food system that supports both those who provide the food and those who consume it. This opportunity just fast forwarded the process in a pretty seamless way. Not only do we have the opportunity to expand our reach but we have the privilege of partnering with one of the state’s most well-respected arts organizations.
How will this partnership help with City of Good’s mission?
One of our core values is supporting a sustainable food system in which our local farms and producers are thriving and all of our neighbors have access to great food. By providing the food for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, we have the opportunity to showcase Boise’s incredible producers and tell our story to a whole new audience. Festival patrons will find a menu that is full of locally grown and prepared foods with something for everyone to enjoy. They will see some of their favorite restaurants represented and will know that every purchase helps make it possible for City of Good to provide a meal for someone experiencing food insecurity. We make it easy (and delicious!) for people to do the right thing.
How can people connect with your nonprofit and perhaps donate or volunteer if they can’t make it to the festival performances?
I encourage people to go to our website, cityofgood.com, to learn more about what we do, make a donation or sign up for a volunteer shift. We rely on volunteers to deliver meals but, starting on May 20, we will need more volunteers than ever before! We’re looking for volunteers who love our mission, great food, a beautiful location, and great performances to help us make the cafe run smoothly.
Is there anything else new on the horizon for City of Good?
Our programs continue to grow and evolve in really exciting ways. Our founding program, Weekend Fuel Kits, was built in response to the pandemic and the specific gaps left in systems during that time. Now, we’re working closely with partner organizations to identify where the needs have shifted. Two specific programs are in the works based on what we’ve learned.
We’re in the early stages of delivering Fuel Kits for seniors. This program will mirror the original program, serving students, but with different nutritional needs in mind.
We have also begun to deliver fresh, local produce to Boise School District Community School pantries. We’re testing the program right now, in partnership with Global Gardens and the district, to make sure we’re delivering what families accessing the pantries need and want in a way that works for them as well as the producers. Deliveries will also include shelf stable pantry items and recipes specific to each delivery.