Since our days in Greenwood, Jonathan Byrd’s has always been a big proponent in being involved in the local community through service. Although our business has changed from our original roots, our bond with the Indianapolis community is strong and we want to be involved as much as we can.

For over 13 years, Jonathan Byrd’s has donated excess food to Second Helpings, Indianapolis’ local food rescue. A food rescue is different from a food pantry or a soup kitchen because a food rescue takes in prepared food or older produce from grocery stores, hotels, caterers, and food supply companies and makes new meals with that food, which is then distributed to over 85 social service agencies across Indianapolis. Second Helpings feeds people in shelters, day cares, community centers, and other programs that feed hungry people but don’t have budgets to pay for food. Second Helpings relies on over 700 active volunteers to help collect, sort, prepare, create, and distribute over 4000 meals a day, which adds up to over 1 million meals a year!

When you choose Jonathan Byrd’s to cater your event, you can rest assured that your leftover food will not go to waste. Second Helpings picks up food at 502 East Event Centre on a regular basis. In fact, Jonathan Byrd’s is one of Second Helping’s biggest donators of prepared food. In 2017 alone, we donated 11,741 pounds of food!


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Volunteers from Jonathan Byrd’s at Second Helpings

Besides feeding the hungry, Second Helpings also gives second chances to the unemployed looking to gain the skills needed to work as cooks in the food service industry. Students are put through a rigorous training program in seven short weeks. During this time, students earn a Servsafe certification, learn knife and cooking techniques, and valuable life skills like teamwork and resume building. The team at Second Helpings then works hard to get job placement for their graduates through their connections with local Indiana businesses.  45% of the students were previously incarcerated and gaining experience from Second Helpings gives them a new lease on life.

Even though Jonathan Byrd’s has been a strong donator to Second Helpings, most of our employees hadn’t been there and didn’t know about the Culinary Job Training Program.  We’re familiar with the volunteers that come to pick up the food, but we haven’t taken the time to really see what really goes on. So, a bunch of us decided to put on hairnets and latex gloves and volunteered to help.

As a small group, we prepared and cut meat for meals that were being distributed the next day. Second Helpings used the produce it receives and makes casserole style meals with it. What they make depends on what kind of food they get each day. We spent most of the night cutting up beef and pork products. We worked with other volunteers to wash dishes and clean the kitchen. At the end of the night, as a surprise, we were treated to dinner made by the students in the Culinary Job Training program.


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Susan, Jennifer, and Emily cut up meat at Second Helpings


Now that we saw first-hand how much Second Helpings does for the community, we were impassioned to do even more! We connected with Chef Vincent Kinkade, Director of Culinary Job Training, with our Executive Chef Brett Lewis to teach a class.

Chef Brett was delighted to visit one of the culinary job training classes and talk about the value of customer service in the food industry. In catering, customer service is essential from the moment the client books an event, to the presentation of the food on the plate, and up until they have finished the last crumb. As a chef, you must be prepared when certain dietary restrictions arise, and you might have to stray from the set menu. Chef Brett stressed how people with dietary restrictions are not to be treated like second class. A vegetarian might feel disappointed if they get the same meal as everyone else, but with no meat, instead of a dedicated vegetarian entrée.

Chef Brett made a tabbouleh, a traditional middle eastern salad with long grain brown rice instead of bulgar. He then gave it a little extra flare by adding roasted tomatoes and chopped cucumbers, which added a lot of flavor. The students enjoyed the tabbouleh and learned about a new vegetarian dish.


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Chef Brett teaches students of the Culinary Job Training Classes offered at Second Helpings


“You need to make each dish unique and special,” said Chef Brett, “just like you are unique and special. Put your own flair into it and your guests will notice.”

Advice like that is essential to students who are eager to make a place for themselves in the world. Jonathan Byrd’s wants to keep supporting our partners within local non-profits like Second Helpings through service and support, however possible. We’re trying to think of more ways everyday to make our community a better place.

To learn more about Second Helpings, visit their website.


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