“LETTUCE EAT” was going to be the name of the restaurant. I had developed a business plan based around a salad and sandwich concept. I fell in love with a new and popular salad shop and built my plans around that concept with a few twists. I described our food and menu as a trumped up version of theirs. From every other angle it was going to be so much more. We would be closed on Sundays and select nights of the week but still serve food. On those days we would morph into “LETTUCE FEED” and open our doors to feed the less fortunate.
But over and over again we kept running into the same challenge, location. To ensure our success and attract the right customers the location was important. It would have to be in an area that had a healthy mix of business, retail and residential. “Lettuce Eat” had to be successful if “Lettuce Feed” was going to come to life.
However we quickly realized that with location being a priority it would also cause other bigger challenges. How would those in need of a free meal get to us? Traffic, lack of public transportation and the cost of gasoline in Southern California made it very restrictive. Are we really helping someone if the money they saved on a meal would be spent on transportation across the county?
One day as I was pondering this challenge, at a local Starbucks of course, a food truck drove by. And then it hit me, we will bring the food to them and with that Bracken’s Kitchen was born.
Every now and then the intersections of my faith and my work collide in a variety of ways. It was a major collision when we worked through the 501c3 application process and were faced with a decision. Are we a faith based organization? That perplexed me. I felt then and still feel today that I have been called to do this. In fact, my whole life has lead me to this moment in time. Yes, I am a person of faith and as the American dollars states, In God We Trust. Did that make us faith based? Um, I’m just wasn’t sure.
Ultimately we decided not to organize as faith based. After all, God called me to cook, not preach. Thank God for that…
Recently those intersections collided and I feel compelled to share.
Over the past several weeks I have been privileged to talk with several wonderful people in the Kansas City area. We have been presented with the idea of building a Food Truck Feeding Program for the greater Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri area and we feel compelled to pursue the idea. We have been blessed to be able to talk with leaders from a variety of wonderful organizations. The Kauffman Foundation, Truman Medical Center, Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council is just a few of the people whom we are collaborating with to figure this out. Through these conversations that one common question came up again and again.
Why did you leave such a successful career to start a nonprofit business?
I answered that question like I have so many times before. That answer lies in the balance of what I feel I’ve been called to do and the real truth about hunger in America. The 2 most pressing needs in a person’s life is to breathe and eat. Air is free, food is not… I feel very strongly that in America nobody should go to bed hungry and I feel even stronger that God has called me to do this.
As Betsy and I were driving down the road the other day a favorite song of mine came on the radio. The lyrics to this song truly speaks to why I have chosen to walk away from a very successful and blessed career to do what I am doing now. It is the answer to the questions that everyone asks…
Sometimes I just wanna close my eyes
And act like everyone’s alright
Cause I don’t wanna live like I don’t care
I don’t wanna say another empty prayer
Oh I refuse
To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh I could choose
Not to move
But I refuse
As I am sure you know, nobody can lead a successful nonprofit campaign without lots and lots of help and support from others. While there are many unique approaches to solving the world’s problems, at the core of it all is the need to connect with people who truly understand your mission and will come on board to support it.
That is why a recent message at church really stuck with me. At the core of this particular message was a question that can be asked in just about any life setting. We can ask our teenage kids, our co-workers, our community members, church members, team members, almost anyone.
Are you playing an active role in your kid’s life, your family life, your church life, your community life, your work life, your own life?
In short, are you a “CONTRIBUTOR” or a “CONSUMER”?
I got to a point in my life where I chose to no longer be a consumer of life but to be a contributor to life through Bracken’s Kitchen.
We could use your help. Will you join us and contribute to our battle to fight food insecurity in Southern California?