Our Strategic Initiatives
Benefactors of OSK identify the power of change from the inside out. We are a humanitarian organization with a centralized infrastructure, utilizing multiple initiatives to solve specific social problems at scale.
Low-Income Cancer Recovery and Chronic Illness Program
At Organic Soup Kitchen, our initiatives work synergistically to enhance our Cancer Recovery Program. This program focuses on delivering nutrient-dense Soup Meals to low-income clients across Santa Barbara County affected by threats of malnutrition and isolation due to their disproportionate socioeconomic status. Our intention is to help in healing food insecurity issues that largely affect ethnic minorities and low-income households by providing our hand-delivered, nutrient-dense Soup Meals weekly. We believe that nutrition interventions result in an enhanced quality of life for the medically ill.
To combat cancer and other chronic illnesses, special dietary needs must be in place. Yet, for many in our community, food security is difficult to come by. This issue plagues nearly 90% of our low-income clients and continues to grow, resulting in malnutrition, low rates of recovery, isolation, and sometimes homelessness.
Specifically, among low-income cancer patients, there is a possibility that food insecurity will force a decision between food and necessary medical treatment. This often results in poor dietary choices, including diets high in calories and saturated fats rather than fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Malnutrition, or inadequate nutrition, is associated with immunosuppression, a weakened immune system, potential infections, and higher risks for impaired healing. Furthermore, an unfair inability to receive adequate nutrition while combatting the effects of cancer can arouse mental health issues such as depression due to financial strain and a reduced quality of life in comparison to food-secure individuals.
Pivoting to a demanding medical regimen is almost impossible to adapt to when compounded with monetary and diverse cultural challenges. It is our mission to ensure that our clients are taken care of when it comes to nutrition while fighting the battle.
Food Security Program
When mother nature says organic seasonal produce is ready, it is ready then. Many farmers scurry around, trying to sell as much produce as they can. Yet even then, most farmers’ produce never makes it to market. Knowing that 40% of food in the United States goes to waste, we developed a way to rescue and stabilize excess crops without compromising their quality.
Our local farmers have been very supportive in partnering with us at Organic Soup Kitchen. From Veggie Rescue and Trinity Gardens to our local Saturday farmers market, we receive around 1,200 pounds of excess produce per month that would otherwise go to waste. Working side by side to reduce our carbon footprint, we have created a cycle of sustainability within our community.
We have perfected a stabilizing method of blanching and roasting fresh produce so the enzymes do not continue aging. We then vacuum seal the produce in its natural juices, without preservatives, suspending its maturation process in BPA-free packaging that reduces oxidation. This process makes our vegetables ready for deep-freeze, available to us for future use months down the line, even if that particular vegetable is “out of season.” Furthermore, we maintain the natural texture of the produce while capturing its flavor and nutritional value.
Nutrient-Dense Soups & Restricted Oxygen Packaging Program
When food is combined with oxygen, mold and bacteria cause spoilage at a faster rate and create a higher possibility of sickness. With zero oxygen, food is able to remain stable in the refrigerator for longer periods of time. We have researched tirelessly to learn how to maintain our soups’ quality of life and ensure that our ingredients and products stay intact. By eliminating oxygen and vacuum-sealing our products, we ensure that there is no way for mildew, mold, or other harmful substances to form on our clients’ Soup Meals once the product leaves our kitchen. Through our methods of packaging, sealing, and cooling, Organic Soup Kitchen’s Soup Meals will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
Our Soup Meals are designed to give clients a full spectrum of nutrients in order to help avoid malnutrition from the first spoonful. Within each vegan Soup Meal is a minimum of 90% organic ingredients, organic fats such as coconut cream and coconut oil, and organic olive oil. All the herbs and spices we use are non-radiated in order to maintain their medicinal value. Though our flavors vary, there is always a minimum of 15 ingredients that cover the vitamins and minerals necessary to boost one’s immune system.
Volunteer Training with Certification program
At Organic Soup Kitchen, it is our top priority to train our volunteer kitchen staff to understand the nuances of running a kitchen efficiently and safely. Our kitchen-training program is comprehensive and includes every aspect of our program, from cleanliness and timeliness to company culture and values. Along with learning the fundamentals of our kitchen, all of our volunteers are required to complete a comprehensive, California-Certified Food Safety course and post their certificate on our wall.
We consider our training program to be more of a team-building program, as our volunteers also meet people from diverse backgrounds who they may not otherwise meet. We not only consider this training program to be influential to the way our company runs, but also an essential self-esteem building tool that creates camaraderie amongst our volunteers.
Delivery Service Program
Many people diagnosed with cancer and chronic illnesses suffer from mobility problems that restrict them from cooking or shopping. On top of medical treatments and food insecurity risks, this creates the threat of isolation. More than 8 million adults over the age of 50 are affected by isolation. Our Delivery Service Program provides an outlet for our low-income clients to thrive in their independence at home. Every Wednesday, our team of over 15-20 delivery drivers provide regular, nutritious Soup Meals and a kind, compassionate face directly to our clients’ doors.
Often, our volunteers are our clients’ only point of contact for the week. Through this vital weekly check-in, we break the cycle of social isolation by providing empathy, a shoulder to lean on, and nutrient-dense Soup Meals.
Our thoughtfully-crafted soups cater to dietary needs as they are all plant-based, gluten-free, low-sodium, and pureed for easy, reparative digestion. Furthermore, having these Soup Meals delivered allows our clients to remain in the comfort of their own homes while their immune system is restoring itself, so they don’t catch any unwanted bugs outside of the home.
Our weekly deliveries are not just for our low-income clients; our reliable services provide relief and comfort to caregivers and family members who know their loved ones will receive scheduled, nutritious Soup Meals and a caring friend straight to their doors. Thus, there is an overwhelming sense of wellbeing for all, knowing that our community is working together to ensure that our clients are well-cared for and looked after.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Jack Kornfield
When a patient is battling a life-threatening illness, all attention turns towards them. Oftentimes, caregivers work in overdrive to combat the increasing stress of their patients’ family and loved ones, and become overlooked as the situation becomes more demanding. The caregiver, whose intent is to help the healing process, instead begins to experience compassion fatigue, also referred to as secondary traumatic stress. This often manifests itself as self-doubt, a sense of hopelessness, a decreased ability to empathize, and a sense of hopelessness.
Conscious Caregiving is a well-organized program offered by Organic Soup Kitchen and partners of our non-profit. It is intended to combat compassion fatigue by offering an outlet for caregivers to openly discuss, care for themselves, and thrive with like-minded individuals experiencing similar situations. Conscious Caregiving offers yoga classes, watsu (water therapy), massages, monthly community dinners to share thoughts and concerns, monthly guided nature hikes, and numerous other alternative therapies for relaxation.