Janet Gorence Davas opened our first location across the street from a New Orleans courthouse as a counterpoint to incarceration. Her vision was to create a place where young adults who had been neglected or criminalized could come for a hot meal, a job opportunity, and a support system.
Over ten years later, we are still that place, and 800+ young people have come through our doors. One important factor has changed. The young people who knocked on our door seeking guidance are now guiding us.
Liberty’s Kitchen now operates two dine-in locations, a catering business, and several community food access projects. We train motivated young adults who are facing extraordinary challenges to access employment and education, and develop their skills as leaders and mentors. These young leaders play pivotal roles in our businesses, programs, and planning.
In our second decade, we still sit around a kitchen table. But we are leveraging our expanded community presence and deep well of graduate talent to work toward a better city–one where every young person can succeed. We hope you will join us in this mission.
Liberty’s Kitchen provides pathways for New Orleans young people to create and achieve their vision of success. Food–at the heart of our city’s economy, culture, and future–is our chosen vehicle for change.
A community where all young people can succeed.
The conditions that have deprived so many youth of the opportunity to reach their full potential are not new–they have existed for hundreds of years. We know we will not change these conditions overnight. However, we envision that our work today will enable the life of the children and grandchildren of our graduates to be easier than theirs have been.
We exist to be a platform for youth to create and achieve their vision of success. Therefore we must hear, respect, and amplify their voices.
Adverse conditions disproportionately facing youth of color are a legacy of structural inequality. We simultaneously support the individual while working to address patterns of inequity.
Overcoming entrenched social challenges requires vision, creativity, and effort equal to the scope of the problem. We strive to do our best work on a daily basis.
“We are because you are.” Our work in the kitchen, in the program, and in the community is highly collaborative. We use partnerships and relationships to create the change we envision.
Liberty’s Kitchen is founded in December 15, 2008 by Janet Davas at Tulane and Broad, across from Orleans Parish Prison and the Criminal Courthouse. Our first students start in 2009.
Liberty’s Kitchen partners with New Orleans College Prep to begin serving school meals at Crocker Elementary. In the coming eight years, we will serve over 2 million meals, joining a national movement to improve child nutrition.
Liberty’s Kitchen moves down the street from its original location into the ReFresh Project, a health equity collaborative based at 300 N. Broad Street. This move enables us to collaborate more effectively with entities such as the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, Boys Town, and SproutNOLA working to reduce health disparities along the Broad Street corridor.
Liberty’s Kitchen begins operation of the cafeteria on the Third Floor of 1615 Poydras. The new location is a new training facility for young people and serves up great food at affordable prices. It features rotating daily specials and deli, classics, grill, and salad bar stations.
In partnership with the City of New Orleans, Propeller, and Top Box Foods, Liberty’s Kitchen begins operating the Healthy Corner Stores Collaborative, bringing affordable produce to food deserts and “food swamps” in each city district. This partnership will help set the course for a new chapter in our food access work.
Liberty’s Kitchen completes construction on a 3,000 square foot expansion, adding a learning and technology lab, community room, and more space for administration. The upgraded space hosts trainee graduations, community gatherings, and alumni support services.
Dennis brings over 15 years of program management experience to Liberty’s Kitchen, where he’s held leadership roles since 2011. As CEO, Dennis makes sure we’re adhering to our organizational values and are moving forward in line with our vision for the future.
In the 10 years since we opened across from the Orleans Parish Prison and Criminal Courthouse, hundreds of young adults have taken their lives into their own hands, pursuing careers, education, and leadership alongside member of our staff and community members.
Turning Tables, our craft bartending training pilot began with the support from Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.
PERCENT EMPLOYMENT RATE FOR GRADUATES
POUNDS OF PRODUCE PURCHASED IN CORNER STORES
BUSINESSES STARTED BY ALUMNI (AND COUNTING!)