Cod loin with lemon caper sauce. Asian noodle salad. Teriyaki chicken.
Sound like a restaurant you’d like to order take-out from? That’s the point for Fresher Sacramento, a nonprofit founded by Rabbi David Azen ’80 to bring healthy food to people who need it most — to seniors, the homeless, to folks in neighborhoods called “food deserts” because fresh food is difficult to find during the pandemic.
Since mid-April, Azen has put 3,000 miles on his van delivering food through his nonprofit. On May 7, Azen posted on Facebook that he and his crew had begun a four-week burst, feeding 477 seniors at five locations and providing 1,125 meals a day for 375 folks who are temporarily sheltered in hotels.
Fresher Sacramento, founded in 2006, has gone through several locations and iterations but has kept to one mission, “Making sure everybody goes to bed well fed.” A chef and two apprentices recently promoted to cooks prepare restaurant-worthy meals daily from items Azen procures, donated from local food banks, local farms, as well as some products purchased in bulk.
Recently, Fresher Sacramento moved to a community center and a 1,200 square-foot kitchen in a city neighborhood that had been a food desert. From this location, the nonprofit gives out 600 meals with a free pick-up service twice weekly for neighborhood residents, in addition to the deliveries it makes. The nonprofit also teamed with Goodwill of the Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada in the past year for help with accounting and “back-end” assistance, giving Azen additional support.
These days, Azen is up and out at 6 a.m. to pick up containers or needed food items. The chef is also on duty, helped by the new cooks to chop, sauté, and bake. Best of all, Azen said, “Angels appear when you need them.” A furloughed worker from a Sheraton hotel recently volunteered to help, and has spread the word to other furloughed workers who now volunteer to help prep, package, and drive the prepared food — meaning Azen has more hands to make sure he can spread Fresher’s message.