Asian Food Collective works to build community one meal at a time

Asian Food Collective works to build community one meal at a time

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Finding comfort in a familiar meal. A South Philadelphia woman is now making it her mission to fill local refrigerators with meals that reflect the people who need them.

“I didn’t cook much growing up,” said Asian Food Collective founder Hanna Kim.

Kim may not be a Michelin star chef, but she’s been receiving quite a bit of praise recently.

“I remember one of our volunteers saying, ‘this tastes just like mom’s cooking,'” Kim said. “And I say ‘thank you’.”

For Kim, food is the ultimate way to connect with her culture.

“Being able to share that culture and experience with people is so fulfilling,” Kim said, “both literally and metaphorically.”

So now a few times a month you’ll find Kim with a small group of volunteer chefs in a cozy kitchen in South Philadelphia.

“I try to dream big,” Kim said. “We can fill in the gaps and get some delicious food into people’s bellies.”

Together, the group makes up the Asian Food Collective, dedicated to cooking from their heritage.

They donate these meals to local refrigerators near 9th and Ellsworth Streets.

“This neighborhood is right next to a high Southeast Asian population,” Kim said. “It’s nice to have food that people recognize.”

Kim founded the Asian Food Collective after discovering an often unseen need.

“There were a lot of Asian elders and families who wanted to shop the refrigerators,” Kim said. “I thought, let’s start bringing culturally relevant foods.”

As soon as the meals are finished, they come right outside and right into a communal fridge for anyone who needs it.

“And it’s free,” said Sydney Chin, the culinary director of the Asian Food Collective. “Their eyes light up. A look of relief. And that really means a lot to me.”

Since their first chef last month, Asian Food Collective has already produced dozens of meals.

The goal is now to expand.

“Empower more people in the kitchen to be able to cook meals,” Chin said.

Provides comfort through familiar food. Build community one meal at a time.

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