Just recently, I was finally able to officially start my first business, a nonprofit called Black Apron that seeks to help strengthen the community by providing chef services to those in need. Age, disability, income, skill level, and even workload are all factors in people not getting quality meals. I want to try and help fill in the gaps of amazing programs like Meals on Wheels by cooking food for people in residence, providing good food, social interaction, and culinary education in whatever quantities I can.
After visiting my partner’s grandfather out of town in January and hearing about how this 91-year-old man — who is frail as can be and on oxygen — struggled to get groceries and prepare meals, but didn’t want to leave the house he lived in (with his late wife) for over 20 years, it struck me that his story, though heartbreaking, wasn’t unique. There are probably many people in the Tri-Cities that struggle to prepare food for themselves.
After months of research and making connections, I finally got everything I needed to start making a positive difference for others. Black Apron is now accepting client applications. It’s a small operation right now — I’m the only chef, and we have a small board of people who want to make a difference. We aren’t wealthy, and we don’t have any corporate backing or anything like that — just people without much, trying to help other people without much.
In addition to providing chef services, we are in the middle of figuring out how Washington State’s Good Samaritan Food Donation laws can help grocery stores and restaurants donate food to clients. For now, we can help work with clients to pick up shopping at a grocery store that they have already paid for, depending on circumstances. Having some local restaurants donate food that would otherwise go to waste could be a big deal for our clients; I just want to make sure everything is being done the right way.
We are so grateful for the help that we have received from the community, including Carrie Green with Meals on Wheels, Rich Wallis with SCORE, Neal Taylor with Gravis Law, and even help with general liability insurance coverage from Josh Hanson, a great guy from Basin Pacific. I started out wanting to help the community, and to do that, the community has helped me.
If you or someone you know would like to apply for Black Apron in-home meal preparation, email BlackApronWA@gmail.com with the following information:
Preferred foods / cooking styles
Days and times meal prep is needed
Please note: Currently, Black Apron only has one chef available, so they may not be able to meet the needs of every client at this time. Chef McNiven is fully vaccinated and Servsafe certified.
Visit Black Apron WA on Facebook.