Food for Soul, which operates kitchens known as Refettorios, has received a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, with the aim of opening in at least two US cities by 2019.
The kitchens aim to serve free and nutritious food to poor and vulnerable communities, and seek to tackle food waste, and promote social inclusion.
The project takes underused or abandoned spaces and transforms them into dining rooms. It uses food otherwise destined for landfill, and works with aspiring young chefs to help give them work experience and chance to showcase their talent.
There have been four Refettorios to date, including in Bottura’s hometown of Modena in Italy, Milan, Bologna, and in Rio de Janiero in Brazil during the 2016 Olympics.
In total, they have served over 15,000 dishes from over 130 chefs, with over 600 volunteers.
The next Refettorio to open will be in London. The group also plans sites for Germany, and Canada.
The project is spearheaded by three Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana was named the World’s Best Restaurant in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant in 2016 (and number two in 2017).
News of the Rockefeller grant comes under a year after the Foundation committed $130m (£103m) to halving food waste, fund research into city food waste solutions, and to support organisations working to reduce waste and address hunger.
“We are thrilled to have The Rockefeller Foundation’s support in working towards a greater and more sustainable impact and to introduce Food for Soul’s successful Refettorio model to America,” says Bottura. “With this support, we can transform lives in vulnerable U.S. cities by providing inclusive environments that bring dignity to the dinner table.
“Our projects are infused with art, design and beauty to engage our guests in a holistic approach to nourishment: to feed the body and the soul. The rejuvenation of food, spaces and people is a cultural project for both those in need and the wider community.”