Blue Door Kitchen to serve daily hot meals to members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County

New initiative helps fight hunger, prepares youth for culinary careers and will launch future business

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County is now serving its members in a new way. It's helping them fight hunger.

The nonprofit opened the Blue Door Kitchen in August. It is a state-of-the-art kitchen that provides 3,500 hot meals for kids every day, serves as a training ground for club members interested in a career in culinary arts, and eventually, it offers nutritious, low-cost meals for club members' families and the surrounding community.

"Blue Door Kitchen was, was birthed to meet the needs of, kids and how hungry they are when they come to us. We also really want Blue Door Kitchen to be a game changer for their nutrition," said Daphne Barlow Stigliano, the CEO and President of Boys & Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County. "So, all of our meals are hot. They're very nutritious and dense. And so, they are introducing things like whole grains and vegetables to kids."

The club and private donations funded the $2 million renovation of an existing space at the Nicholas and Louella Martin Branch branch on Avenue G in Fort Worth. Support came from Jackson-Shaw, a national real estate development company headquartered in North Texas, the Amon G. Carter Foundation along with private donations.

The Ladies Auxiliary of Arlington contributed a commercial truck to transport meals to BGCGTC's Arlington locations. In all, three delivery vehicles will be used to carry meals and snacks to 25 BGCGTC facilities each day.

The kitchen also supports one of BGCGTC's newest workforce development programs - Culinary Connection, which introduces youth aged 13 and older to various cooking techniques and provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to work in a professional kitchen. Participants work under the tutelage of executive chef Chris Hallowell, who leads seasonal menu creation with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and scratch-cooking principles.

Blue Door Kitchen also equips BGCGTC with space to fulfill community food needs as they arise. Barlow says the organization plans to offer carry-out meal opportunities by fall 2023.

"To our knowledge, this type of venture has never been attempted by a Boys & Girls Club," Barlow said in a news release. "I'm proud to say that our organization is capable of handling the complexity of managing the facilities and the volume of meals that this will entail. The young people and families we serve will benefit from this exciting venture for years to come."

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