Coalition for Hunger will help Denver restaurants feed the homeless

Ryan Hickey has cooked in several restaurants around town, but it was while manning the stoves at Colt & Gray, his current gig, that he really started thinking about perfectly good food that goes to waste in kitchens. "We throw a lot of stuff away because it doesn't look good enough to serve," he explains. "But those ingredients aren't expired; they just don't meet our standards."

So Hickey decided to do something worthwhile with the waste, and along with co-founder Jillian Burghoff, he's started Coalition for Hunger, a nonprofit that will take food donations from Denver's top restaurants and turn them into meals for the homeless.

Working in conjunction with Ryan Canaday, who distributes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches through urban ministries at the University of Denver -- and holds the necessary 501 (c)(3) -- Hickey and Burghoff will amass donations of raw ingredients from area eateries. They'll then cook those and distribute the meals once a week at Civic Center Park. (Once things get rolling, they hope to up the frequency to three times a week.)

They also have plans to make donating easy for restaurants by rolling out a website (still under construction) where chefs can notify the organization when there's a donation waiting, and someone from the nonprofit will pick it up. And they've got some top-notch spots on board, too -- in addition to Colt & Gray, Hickey cites Rioja, TAG and Squeaky Bean.

Once they have the food, they'll put college students to work. "We'll get the product, cook it at DU and distribute it." And they plan to serve everything in eco-friendly packaging, too.

Coalition for Hunger is slated to launch on April 1. For more information, call 402-517-0398, e-mail coalitionforhunger@gmail.com or check out the organization's Facebook page.

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