Kevin Katch was in his early 20s when he first moved to the mile square city in 2001 after growing up in Massachusetts and living in New York City.
Little did he know that 14 years later he would become a catalyst for an important question in Hoboken: Are we feeding the less-fortunate healthy food?
This past week Katch officially launched The Gold Spoon – a charity that partners local restaurants with soup kitchens to provide healthy menu items to The Hoboken Shelter. The shelter, which takes in 50 people a night, serves approximately 500 meals a day everyday of the week.
Katch, who volunteers at soup kitchens in New York, recently began asking local restaurants if they were interested in donating some of their healthy food options to the local shelter.
So far, 11 restaurants signed up within the first few weeks and 10 of them have begun to deliver salads for 40 to 50 people a day on certain days – while Buddha Press is offering its organic juices throughout the week. Being that the shelter serves food every day of the week including weekends, Katch hopes to ultimately serve salads on Saturday and Sunday as well, and thus he needs four additional restaurants to sign up.
“Every owner that I’ve talked to has been very excited, never asking what they can get out of it, and it’s been pretty amazing to see the response,” said Katch. “In less than a week, six restaurants committed. I truly believe in Hoboken there’s such a sense of family, and sense of home.”
“Too often our demand for high-quality food and ingredients falls short and I think we overlook the privilege of access to nutritious food.” – Kevin Katch
“We’re very thankful for [Kevin’s] support, our many volunteers, and the support of the community to serve 500 meals every single day,” said Executive Director of The Hoboken Shelter Jaclyn Cherubini. “The very first step on the journey to help someone move from the street to the shelter to a home always starts with a warm meal. It may seem simple that it’s a salad or soup or coffee, but it’s actually hope.”
What’s the Katch?
Katch, who attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania before moving to New York City, left New York to relocate to Hoboken a day after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has volunteered with Graffiti Church (to which The Gold Spoon also currently donates) and through his congregation at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.
Graffiti Church, which has five locations throughout New York, dates back to the early 1970s when they provided outreach to children in the drug-controlled culture of Alphabet City.
In 2000, the church expanded from one location to as many as 29. The flagship location of Graffiti Church holds Wednesday Night Meals. Katch started to volunteer there in October of 2014.
It was such a night that sparked the idea to launch The Gold Spoon.
“They had a nutritionist from Cornell Community Outreach who was offering a course for nutrition for the patrons of the soup kitchen, and I never really thought about the nutritional quality of the food that was served,” he said.
As if by fate, a regular patron of the soup kitchen, Dorothy – a diabetic woman – asked Katch if they had salad.
“I said, no I don’t have any, but I promise to get you some,” he said. “That was the very beginning of how The Gold Spoon started.”
Budding entrepreneur lying within
Katch was able to get a boost after placing first in a competition in April of this year held at his church by the Center for Faith and Work (C.F.W) and receiving $5,000.
The CFW’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program was launched in 2006 to encourage and support entrepreneurs within the congregation.
Little Fury – an independent design studio – later volunteered to devise a brand for his charity and come up with the slogan: “Nutrition for All.”
The $5,000 helped Katch to incorporate the charity as a 501c3.
The glass windows of restaurants in Hoboken will soon display The Gold Spoon’s trademark decal.
“If you’re going out and you see this on someone’s door, it’s the easiest way to know they’re investing in the health of the neighborhood,” said Katch.
Neighbors helping neighbors
Many businesses, Katch said, were surprised a charity like The Gold Spoon had not already existed.
“It seems like a no-brainer,” said Keith Valenti, owner of Buddha Press in Hoboken, a new eatery.
Unlike the other restaurants, which will donate salad to the Hoboken Shelter, Buddha Press will offer its signature cold-pressed and organic juices.
“When he first came to me, I thought, of course I’d help and make a difference in the community,” Valenti said. “We’re giving our high-end organic food to those who need it the most. I think it’s a big deal what The Gold Spoon is doing, and a perfect fit for us.”
Katch said he was amazed when Chef Anthony David Pino, owner of Anthony David’s and Bin 14, decided to donate twofold by having both of his restaurants send food.
Frank Volpe, owner of Napoli’s Pizza, which has been in Hoboken for the past eight years, said The Gold Spoon helped teach his three sons a lesson.
“Honestly, the timing couldn’t be better. Right now I have three boys and recently I’ve been teaching them that it’s important to take care of the less fortunate,” said Volpe. “These are people in Hoboken, and it feels good that we’re able to help them.
On the Horizon
In the future Katch hopes to partner with St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church’s soup kitchen on Eighth St. in Hoboken. He is also considering soup kitchens throughout Hudson County such as St. Martin’s and Mt. Olive Church in Jersey City, and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish and St. Andrews’ in Bayonne.
To get involved in the charity or donate visit www.thegoldspoon.org or email Kevin Katch at Kevin@thegoldspoon.org. Follow The Gold Spoon on Instagram @thegoldspoonorg.
Steven Rodas can be reached at email@example.com.