Huntington Kitchen and the Fresh Market Program

Huntington Kitchen And The Fresh Market Program

Tue 26 Apr 2011

Story by David Miles

When filming wrapped up on Season 1 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, local non profit organization Ebenezer Medical Outreach (EMO) stepped in to take over the operation of Huntington Kitchen, featured in the series.

EMO, who offer preventative care to the medically uninsured, vowed to continue running the kitchen as a “cooking education centre”, providing free lessons in cooking and choosing healthy ingredients. With the help of generous donations from Cabell Huntington hospital, US foodservice and Organizing for America, as well as the wider local community, the Huntington kitchen opened it’s doors to the public in February 2010.

So a little over a year on, how is the kitchen doing?

Ashley Thompson, Director of Resource Development at EMO, has been working with Huntington’s Kitchen for eighteen months.

“The beginning of my partnership with Huntington’s Kitchen was a great experience. The major challenge since then has been funding and losing the support of US Foods but the kitchen is making a difference. We are helping our local community and the tri-state community and that’s a great feeling. We try to instill ‘All things in Moderation’. We don’t expect to completely change bad habits overnight but encourage our patients and community to make small changes.”

Over the past year local organizations have become involved and this has helped to build the support of the Huntington community. “It takes time to build trust so when a local entity takes over and gets positive feedback and support from a local hospital (Cabell Huntington) the community takes a better look at the picture”.

One of the project’s the EMO has brought to Huntington’s Kitchen is the Fresh Market Project. It was the dream of Ashley’s co-worker, Andie Leffingwell, to make a positive difference to their patients’ lives by providing them with fresh, local produce. So when EMO started the Fresh Market Project three years ago, Andie’s dream became a reality and gave the community a project they have truly embraced: “The Fresh Market has turned in to a want and need of the entire community”.

This year’s Fresh Market will kick off on the following dates:

Thursday April 28 at the EMO
Friday April 29 at Huntington’s Kitchen

It‘s an ongoing project that will continue throughout the summer months in to early October. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the generous $10 000 donation from Cabell Huntington that has meant the Fresh Market could return”.

It is the support of the Cabell Huntington Hospital which has been central to the success of Huntington kitchen: “With their ongoing support… Cabell Huntington makes sure the lights are still on and that the community is still able to be part of the kitchen”.

Over the past two years, Leffingwell has developed several relationships with local farmers and this year the EMO have been in contact with over 40 local producers, a significant increase on last year. Market goers are promised a vast array of delicious, fresh, local produce including green beans, corn on the cob, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, onions, herb starters, tomato plants, organic chicken eggs (from Andie’s chicken farm) blueberries, apples, pears, strawberries, watermelon, goats cheese, meats and honey. Or as Ashley frankly puts it: “Anything we can get our hands on that is local!”

As for the Huntington kitchen in 2011, there are plans to offer Jamie classes steps one and two, put on children’s classes and summer camps as well as continue with free cooking demos. Overall the message from Huntington a year on is extremely positive. “People love Huntington’s Kitchen! It’s extremely welcoming and a great vibe when you even just enter the building itself. We hope that our positive attitudes and passion will continue to make our community healthy!”

About the author: David Miles is a chemistry graduate and foodie with the philosophy: the closer it is to nature, the better it is for you. David is currently volunteering with the Food Revolution team.


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