A unique, pay-what-you-can restaurant, takes excess food and turns out affordable, chef-quality meals, while employing veterans in a community-driven, service field.
PRINCIPLE N° 01
We take excess food from our grocery partners and turn it into amazing meals, every day.
40% of all food produced in America is thrown away, before it ever reaches a consumer; a staggering 60 million tons or more of food a year. Food is thrown away at several phases of production: growing, packaging, shipping, and selling.
As grocery store consumers we expect perfect produce. One bump, bruise, or slight discoloration on an item typically means it sits unpurchased until it is thrown away. To create appealing, visually abundant displays, grocers purchase excess product, which results in higher rates of waste and spoilage.
Our primary focus is toward the end of the production line, in the grocery stores. Little John’s partners with grocery stores, taking nutritious ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away due to cosmetic or display space reasons, and converts them into healthy, chef-quality, delicious meals.
PRINCIPLE N° 02
We believe we can make a huge impact against food insecurity in our community.
49 million Americans live in food insecure homes. In the US, hunger isn’t caused by lack of food resources, but rather the complicated issues related to the disadvantages surrounding poverty.
Many poverty-stricken areas are underserved by any sort of proper grocery store. Food banks, soup kitchens, and other sources for affordable, nutritious food, are often outside of these food deserts. These geographic areas also typically have less access to public transportation, and the people who live in them often do not have their own vehicle. Lack of nutrition leads to poorer health and more expense to acquire food of any sort.
For people who are struggling, especially folks with children, accepting help from food banks and soup kitchens can feel shameful. For those experiencing homelessness, lack of food preparation or storage space, lack of transportation, and scheduling conflicts, can create a situation where healthy food options are not feasible.
To complicate things further, many resources are linked to a specific religious tradition, which can feel isolating to those who don’t identify with that tradition.
Our hope is to eliminate shame around food access, creating a consumer experience that is the same for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. Food is for everyone. Nutrition is for everyone. Dignity is for everyone.
PRINCIPLE N° 03
Serving Our Nation
We believe in providing real-world, hands-on training to the people who have already sacrificed so much for our community — our veterans.
44% of US veterans leave their first post-military job within a year, primarily due to a lack of fit. During active service, members of the military are trained for a specific job, which they perform successfully as part of a team. Upon returning home, veterans are faced with a job market that often doesn’t feature a match for their skill set, or the sense of purpose and belonging that they have become accustomed to through service.
For folks returning home from duty, it is difficult to articulate their experiences to family and friends who have changed so much in the time they’ve been away. There is a struggle to reconnect and rejoin civilian life.
Depression, rather than PTSD, is often the result, and with it, higher rates of suicidality.
These are big issues, but the thing we hear over and over is that renewing sense of purpose, and community support, can make all the difference.
At this time many restaurants are engaged in what equates to bidding wars for skilled cooks to work in their kitchens.
Kitchens mimic the hierarchy of military life and give specific boundaries and expectations to each member of the team. Little John’s is propelled by a greater, overarching need—providing food for everyone—and this greater good provides feelings of purpose to everyone involved.
Little John’s hires veterans for a paid, six-month, training contract. Once graduated from our program, Little assists veterans in finding long-term positions in the food service industry or connecting them with resources to continue on in a degreed culinary program for further training.