TEMECULA, Calif. – Guests are used to seeing Pechanga and Temecula Creek Inn chefs busy in the kitchen. But during August, seven chefs could be found many mornings sorting produce and food donations, and then giving the items to people in need at the Community Mission of Hope food pantry in Temecula.
Collectively, the chefs have spent more than one full day – 24 hours – volunteering at the Temecula food pantry. As millions of Americans told the Census Bureau recently they did not have enough to eat, the chefs say they felt the need to pitch in because it’s simply the right thing to do.
“I think this has been going on so long that you can get a little numb to it,” said Matt Steffen, executive chef at Temecula Creek Inn & Cork Fire Kitchen, which is not currently open. “So coming down and helping out and seeing this, it energizes you to say, ‘hey this isn’t over, people still need the help so let’s get out here and help them as much as we can.’”
“I’m doing our small part to make this world a better place so I’m very happy to be doing this,” said Pechanga chef Marlene Moore. “It’s especially important knowing that the company I work for gives back to the community especially with everything that’s going on now, it’s just so special, and just a privilege.”
The chefs sorted and separated food donations from local grocery stores and the public. They even helped other volunteers spot what produce can be saved and what should go to compost.
“We sort everything and build these boxes and drop them in people’s cars. They have a little bit of all the staples you’d need in your pantry – some dairy, some bread, vegetables, some meat, things like that so a little bit of everything,” said Steffen.
The chefs are continuing their volunteer hours at the food bank, and chef Steffen has pledged to make a chef’s lunch for their small army of volunteers.
Pechanga recently provided grants to three local Southwest Riverside County food pantries totaling $20,000. The funds will help support the pantries as they work to meet the urgent needs of local families. The beneficiaries include the Community Food Pantry of Murrieta, the HOPE Food Pantry, and the Community Mission of Hope.