Soup Kitchen Partners with Leading Restaurant Design Company to Go Green

Soup Kitchen Partners with Leading Restaurant Design Company to Go Green

Cathedral Kitchen, an organization that provides 8,000 meals each month to the poor and hungry in Camden, N.J., has partnered with DAS Architects, based in Philadelphia, to create an environmentally friendly soup kitchen to open in mid-October 2008. Designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certified status upon completion, the new facility will conserve energy and water in order to lower operating costs and reduce waste sent to landfills. From "green" ideas for saving energy and dollars, to efficient kitchen and dining room set-up, the soup kitchen will benefit from DAS Architects' design expertise in restaurant and hospitality projects.

Cathedral Kitchen, the largest congregate feeding program in Camden, has been serving meals to the poor and hungry since 1976. Most recently, the nonprofit has operated out of the gymnasium of the former Camden Catholic High School at Broadway and Federal streets, with all food operations contained to a closet-sized kitchen. The new Cathedral Kitchen site, located at 1514 Federal Street, will be two times larger than the existing site with approximately 14,872 square feet of space, featuring a 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen and dining room with space for 288 diners per seating.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with DAS Architects on our new facility," said Karen Talarico, executive director of Cathedral Kitchen. "To our knowledge, we are designing the country's first-ever 'green' soup kitchen."

Cathedral Kitchen

A capital campaign began in spring 2005 to raise the $3.9 million needed to pay for the new facility, furnishings and equipment. To date, funding from government grants, corporate and private foundations, religious institutions, private individuals and in-kind gifts has raised $3.8 million. Cathedral Kitchen is continuing to accept donations until all $3.9 million is raised.

DAS Architects, restaurant designers who are creating the new home of Cathedral Kitchen, have designed more than 100 signature restaurant projects including George Perrier's Le-Bec Fin (Philadelphia), Daniel Stern's Rae (Philadelphia), Wolfgang Zweiner's Wolfgang's Steakhouse (Tribeca, N.Y. and South Beach, Fla.), Nino Tamburin's CoccoLa (Hillsborough, N.J.), Rats (located at the world-renowned Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J.) and opening this fall, Ed Doherty and Terry White's Union Trust Steakhouse (Philadelphia). The restaurant designers not only lent their knowledge and expertise in banquet and restaurant facilities to the Cathedral Kitchen project, but they also helped raise funds to support the new facility. DAS Architects reached out to their various contacts and vendors to drum up financial support for the nonprofit and also organized a fundraising event with nine area restaurants. On November 3, 2006, participating restaurants vowed to donate $5 of the cost of each dinner served to support Cathedral Kitchen. Five dollars is the cost to feed one hot meal to a Cathedral Kitchen customer.

DAS Architects, experts in designing banquet and restaurant facilities, gave Cathedral Kitchen access to today's most innovative designs to help maximize cost savings and efficiency. Costs associated with initial installation of "green" construction materials will generate savings for the nonprofit in the future - with decreased energy, water and operational costs.

"Cathedral Kitchen proves that even a soup kitchen can afford to go 'green,'" said Dave Schultz, AIA, a co-founder of DAS Architects. "Our design planned for a 'green' building from the beginning. Cathedral Kitchen is committed to go 'green' and, at the same time, reduce operating costs. We predict that Cathedral Kitchen will save 25 percent to 35 percent in operating costs annually."

From the start, DAS Architects made the necessary steps to position Cathedral Kitchen as a certified "green" facility by requiring that 20 percent of building products brought to the site were manufactured locally, reducing trucking and transportation costs. The design plans also called for the facility to be built on a site where an abandoned building once stood, allowing Cathedral Kitchen to reclaim land and rejuvenate the area.

Recycled materials are being used to build flooring for the new facility. To keep electricity bills low, efficient appliances and lighting will be installed throughout the space. In the summer months, Cathedral Kitchen will benefit from light color metal roofing which helps reflect heat. Outside, drought resistant landscaping will be irrigated by water runoff from the roof.

"Ninety percent of the soup kitchen's interior space will offer natural light," said John Suter, a LEED accredited architect at Kling Stubbins, who was instrumental in the planning stages of the proposed "green" building. "Window locations provide natural light which will save energy by reducing use of artificial light, but more importantly, the natural light and views provide guests with a sense of well being."

Cathedral Kitchen will reuse table and chairs donated by local businesses to furnish the new facility. Reusing donated furniture will allow Cathedral Kitchen to re-furnish the new facility and provide additional dining room seating without adding extra costs on top of the budget.

"When considering to go 'green," it is best to reuse pre-owned furniture instead of buying new furniture made with 'green' materials," said Seth DeForest, president of Boomerang, a pre-owned furniture supplier, who donated work stations for Cathedral Kitchen's administrative offices. "Nothing is more 'green' than recycling materials. Reusing just one office workstation eliminates 850 pounds of waste from being sent to landfills."

Cathedral Kitchen's new, "green" facility is not only making a positive impact on the environment, but allows the nonprofit to make a greater impact on the community. The new facility has more storage space, enabling the soup kitchen to accept more food donations. Cathedral Kitchen will have the opportunity to prepare a wider variety of meals with more fresh, nutritional ingredients than their small kitchen had once allowed. Food products will be able to be purchased in bulk and stored in new commercial walk-in refrigerators and freezers.

The layout of the new dining room allows for an increased number of volunteers to efficiently prepare and serve meals. As a result, clients will be served quickly - increasing the turnaround time between seatings and allowing more people to be fed per meal.

"At Cathedral Kitchen, guests are seated individually and are served by volunteers rather than from a cafeteria-style food line," said Talarico. "This allows us to provide a unique and special dining experience for each of our guests."

Starting in January 2009, the new facility will begin a culinary arts job training program; case management and health care programs will also be added to Cathedral Kitchen's resources.

DAS Architects

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