Jensen Cummings’ Heroes Against Hunger is Truly Heroic. A Guest Post by Lia Moran.

This August, I attended an event on the University of Denver campus called “Heroes Against Hunger Block Party”.
Some of Denver’s most popular chefs and restaurants banded together to raise money to help end childhood hunger.
Jensen Cummings – a respected Denver chef – and one of the owners of Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery in town, was the driving force behind the event.
The carnival-themed party also had a farmers’ market selling produce local students had grown.
Jensen branched out and created Heroes Like Us, a group of over 100 chefs who will help organizations host fundraisers that need chefs.
“We’re going to be able to handle their food events. If we can handle the logistics for them – getting the chefs to sign on and helping them get what they need to put their best foot forward, then the event coordinators have less to worry about.”
Jensen said there is really nothing like this organization anywhere.
They’ve already gotten their 501(c)(3) status and Jensen has been writing bylaws for the group.
“It’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience,” he said.
Recently, Slow Food USA helped raise money for the Front Range Farm Flood Relief Fund at Balisteri Vineyards, and asked for Jensen’s help.
Within three hours, he had chefs to do the event and also organized getting the food to them for an event being held just nine days later.
“The impact is bigger than just the chefs involved. It really bolstered the community. That event helped show how this model works,” said Jensen.
Heroes Like Us is currently planning for 2014, pairing up with groups like Denver Off the Wagon and Kyle Dill of Industry Denver working to bring food and beverages to their events.
I had to ask Jensen why he was personally so interested in and concerned with ending childhood hunger.
I know why it matters to me.
In the past, I volunteered for “Chefs Up Front”, an annual fundraiser for Share Our Strength.
I was paired with Jennifer Jasinski, (Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall, S&G Fish) and she taught me so much about food in the six hours I spent with her.
I knew that day I wanted to cook more and help end childhood hunger.
I think Jensen’s answer is spot on: “Feeding our community is why I cook. It’s why chefs do what we do. Children deserve to be fed well. Kids who are will be more successful. No kid anywhere has ever done anything to deserve not being fed. It’s a natural connection for me to want to support that.”
He went on to say, “One of the ideals that has been a big part of our message is that it’s all about building a whole community of people passionate about food and drink, breaking down barriers around sociological and economical statuses. All of us should be inspired by food. It’s not really about the food you’re eating, it’s about the community you’re building.”
At the Heroes Like Us event in August, the parents could see what their children had produced for the farmers’ market and how it changes their lives.
“Two moms holding produce that their children had grown were inspired to cook for their families. That’s a perfect moment. At that moment, those two moms, no matter what their background, are the same,” said Jensen.
Earlier this year, Jensen, and two other well-known and loved local chefs, Matt Selby and Tyler Wiard, attended a dinner at the governor’s mansion with Share Our Strength.
Jensen went on, “We did the dinner and then Lt. Governor Joe Garcia presented us with a Colorado state flag that had been flown over the capitol. They did this whole flag presentation; it was incredible. I had goose bumps – like roller coaster tingly!”
The chefs also received a signed proclamation from Governor Hickenlooper.
“We came out of that dinner all fired up. Of course we didn’t deserve that honor but now we wanted to earn it.”
Jensen on food insecurity: “As far as people going hungry, there’s a lot of pride attached to being able to provide for your family. If you can’t provide food for your family, you’re often seen as a failure, and that’s not the case. That is why food is such an issue. It’s the core of who we are. We want to pretend it’s someone else’s problem when the reality is that it’s happening in our communities.”

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