Top Chef and Food Entrepreneur Discusses Food Insecurity and How Restaurants Can Help

Brendan Corkery

February 1, 2021

Brendan Corkery says restaurants can remain viable during the COVID-19 pandemic and help their communities too. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the foodservice industry hard. Many restaurant owners have had to close their doors because of the pandemic. At the same time, America is seeing a surge in the number of people who are food insecure. In many areas across the country, people are lining up, sometimes for hours, at food banks in hopes of getting a couple of bags of food. Chef Brendan Corkery discusses ways restaurants can not just remain viable but relevant while securing their futures and helping their communities. “I have watched in horror as restaurants across the country have closed, and people across this country are struggling just to put food on their tables. This should never happen here.”, Brendan Corkery said.

Many experts and activist groups have stated that the Coronavirus has exacerbated food insecurity, which has been a long-standing problem in the United States and Brendan Corkery agrees. “The issue of food insecurity has always been here, but COVID-19 has brought it front and center. Food insecurity has become a personal crisis for far too many people.”, Brendan Corkery said. The most predominant hunger-relief organization in the nation, Feeding America, reports that there are over 54 million people dealing with food insecurity in the United States, and 18 million of them are children. “No one in America should ever go hungry, especially our children.”, Brendan Corkery said.

Because the nation is in the middle of a pandemic, there is not only a need to ensure people have food to eat, but it has to be nutritious, according to Brendan Corkery. “It is simply not enough for those of us who are in the food service industry to step up to help feed our communities, we have to step up to make sure they get healthy food that will help sustain their bodies so they can remain healthy enough to help them fight off the virus.”, Brendan Corkery said. Corkery recognizes that times are hard, and restaurant owners don’t believe they have a lot of resources to draw from, but he disagrees. “Taking care of people in our communities does not always equate to donating food or giving money. There are a number of things we can do, like working with area food banks, to help them come up with lists of healthy foods to ask people to donate.”, Brendan Corkery said.

The owner of several restaurant chains across the country, Brendan Corkery says that restaurant owners have to start to think outside of the box to save themselves and their communities. “Look, there are a lot of people who can’t afford to go out and buy a five star, or even a three-star meal, but that does not mean they shouldn’t have one. “Chefs are the most creative people in the world, and it is up to us to show people how to eat cheaper and better at the same time.”, Brendan Corkery said. 

“We need to encourage food banks to ask for non-perishable items like dried beans, rice, instant potatoes, and powdered milk products, then we need to put our thinking caps on, to come up with healthy recipes to center around those products. From there, we can take things a step farther by opening up our hearts and our kitchens, and offering free online cooking classes, to showcase the healthy low-cost foods we’ve created. We could feed a lot of people, and this could help all of us remain relevant.”, Brendan Corkery said.