Interview with Lynn Loflin, Teaching Kitchen Chef, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

by Cameron St. Germain

Lynn Loflin, Teaching Kitchen Chef, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Over five years as Executive Chef at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a 123-year-old settlement house on the East Side of Manhattan, Lynn Loflin transformed their food services to a model farm-to-institution program, serving 350,000 healthy meals annually to low-income New Yorkers, using more than 90% fresh produce, 30-40% locally sourced, as well as local grains and sustainably harvested fish.  Since 2015, Lynn has led The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a training and technical assistance program designed to help nonprofit organizations to serve more fresh, healthy and local food – without raising costs.  To date, The Teaching Kitchen has trained 22 organizations serving nearly 3 million meals annually.  In 2016, the New York State Health Foundation awarded The Teaching Kitchen their Emerging Innovator Award, describing the program as “poised to make radical improvements to the state of New York’s health over the next 10 years.”

Prior to joining the Neighborhood House, Lynn was a Chef Instructor at the Children’s Aid Society and Program Manager at Our Growing Place, a “seed-to-table” organic gardening, cooking and nutrition program for children living in NYCHA developments. Lynn currently owns and operates Newton Farm in the Catskills, which provides organic produce to New York City restaurants and has a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  For nearly 20 years, Lynn also owned and operated Miracle Grill, a popular Southwestern restaurant with two Manhattan locations. Lynn holds a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a Culinary Arts Degree from New York Restaurant School/New School for Social Research Culinary Arts Program.

Where you grow up: I grew up in rural north Louisiana

Where you live now: I live in Brooklyn

Background and education: I studied Philosophy in college. I went to culinary school after working in restaurants after college. I owned two NYC restaurants for 20 years and have run an small, diverse, organic farm in the Catskills (Newton Farm) since 1999. I became the Exec Chef of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in 2011 because of an interest in improving institutional food served on the “Public Plate” to low income New Yorkers. I am currently The Teaching Kitchen Chef at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House which trains other institutions to serve fresh, regional food to their low income clients in a Farm to Institution model.

Food policy/food as medicine hero: Frances Moore Lappe

One word to describe our food system: Perilous

One word to describe our healthcare system: Dysfunction

Your favorite food: Garlic

Your breakfast this morning: NYS apple

Your last meal on earth: Roasted Sweet Potato/Cauliflower Tacos with Cabbage Slaw, and Smoked Beet/Yogurt/Lime sauce

Must-have healing food/ingredient: Garlic

Food policy, health, food as medicine book, website(s) social media/blog must-follow/read: N/A

Your elevator pitch for food as medicine? We are what we eat!

Which widespread nutritional misconceptions worry you the most? That the world will be saved by eating salmon, blueberries and kale.

What do you see as the next step for food as medicine? Education and more education.

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