Chef Kwame Onwuachi is a chef, author, and activist living in Los Angeles, Calif. Onwuachi first connected with No Kid Hungry in 2015 ‒ and he’s since become an ardent supporter of our work. Onwuachi has cooked at multiple No Kid Hungry events, advocated on Capitol Hill and traveled to New Orleans to witness our work in schools.
In early 2021, Onwuachi joined our Leadership Council, a group of passionate corporate, philanthropic, media, culinary and policy leaders that provide strategic guidance on the No Kid Hungry campaign.
In August 2021, Onwuachi partnered with the acclaimed entrepreneur Sheila Johnson to convene more than 300 chefs, business leaders and culinary enthusiasts at The Family Reunion, a multi-day celebration of diversity in the hospitality industry at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va. We are humbled to have been a beneficiary partner of the event.
We were thrilled to be a small part of The Family Reunion. What — or who — inspired you to build this event?
I was inspired by just the lack of representation in the food industry in general. There have only been a handful of events that have highlighted black and brown contributions to the food industry, I wanted to help be a part of that change. And including No Kid Hungry as a beneficiary was a natural fit. We can’t get together for food without thinking of kids who don’t have it.
In 2016, you joined a group of chefs to witness our work in New Orleans schools. What stuck with you from that experience?
That trip to New Orleans was an amazing experience. I was able to get to see what No Kid Hungry does first hand in schools. I was able to see the community that No Kid Hungry engages to make sure kids have access to meals -- from commissary kitchens to classrooms. It inspired me to get more involved.
You’ve shared your experience facing food insecurity as a kid and seeing its effects on your wider community. How have those experiences shaped your career as a chef and an activist?
I think coming from a place of true empathy has shifted the way I think about access to food. It should be a right not a privilege to have access to nourishing food. I've been the kid that went to bed hungry and it's not even close to an ideal situation that anyone should go through.
The culinary industry is changing so rapidly. How do you see the role of chefs evolving in the coming years?
Chefs have an opportunity to enhance their communities. Lack of representation in the food industry and childhood hunger have affected my life directly, so I can bring my experience to bear on those issues. But everyone should have a seat at the table and being in our position we can ensure that.
Today, 1 in 6 children in the US could be living with hunger. Chefs— like Onwuachi— continue to step up and find creative ways to ensure all kids have access to the meals they need to thrive. Stay tuned for more stories about champions supporting No Kid Hungry.
Listen to Kwame Onwuachi speak to Share Our Strength's cofounder Billy Shore in the Add Passion and Stir podcast about Black culture and diversity in the restaurant industry.