An Interactive Kitchen for Those in Need
By Lisa R. Schoolcraft
The Atlanta Community Food Bank’s new location off Camp Creek Parkway will soon have an added tool to fight food insecurity: an interactive kitchen. The idea for a purposeful partnership began to take shape over a year ago when Matthew D. Rao, owner and principal of RAO Design Studio, Inc., who is also on the advisory board for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, suggested to the National Kitchen & Bath Association Georgia Chapter that the group collaborate with the food bank. Rao, along with Joy Goetz, a nutrition and wellness program manager, and Kelsey Petty of Randall-Paulson Architects, has been heading up the design of the cooking space. “It’s a collaboration with the food bank, but I have the background to help it become a learning kitchen,” Rao says.
Until now, the food bank’s kitchen was a place for demonstrations. This will be where client participation happens, he says. The food bank also plans to film events in the kitchen. “The food bank has a 29-county service area in north Georgia,” says Rao. “That’s a lot of people who are clients that don’t live nearby and aren’t able to come to a class in the learning kitchen. These classes will be broadcast to people who can’t be there.” Vendors such as SieMatic, Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove, as well as Caesarstone have enhanced the kitchen with the donation of appliances, cabinetry, countertops, and funds to further its development says Rao, who donated his design services. “The wonderful thing about the learning kitchen is that it will teach groups of people what nutrition is,” he says. “A lot of people who become clients of the food bank didn’t learn about it from their elders. Members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association are my peers and to see the excitement about service and helping through our talents as a whole has been wonderful.”