Why She’s a Food Hero: In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, Kim Calichio began Lifeline Groceries, a food relief initiative offshoot of The Connected Chef designed to help families in Queens receive groceries, particularly those who didn’t qualify for other government assistance but are still in need. The organization also has partnered with numerous other food relief organizations, such as the Astoria Food Pantry, Queens Care Collective, and mutual aid groups all around Queens, to better reach the diverse communities in the borough.
Background: Calichio is originally from Long Island, and attended Stony Brook University. She previously worked in the New York City restaurant industry before founding The Connected Chef in 2016.
Work: When The Connected Chef began, the goal was to help Queens families worry less about mealtimes by providing cooking and gardening education. Many of the original volunteers were chefs or other restaurant workers, people who disproportionately lost jobs at the start of the pandemic. Lifeline Groceries began as an initiative to provide fresh foods to these households and families during the pandemic, and The Connected Chef has grown to serve over 700 families every week. A longer term goal of the organization includes procuring space to grow their own food for distribution.
Awards, Praise and Honors: Calichio was spotlighted by the Queens Museum for her community organizing work during the pandemic.
Location: Astoria, Queens
Resources and References:
- Community Spotlight with The Connected Chef’s Kim Calichio (Astoria Mutual Aid Network)
- New York Foodie Couple Utilize Their Passion to Feed Families in Need (Newsweek)
[Note: The Connected Chef received a modest grant from the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center in 2019]