Edible Communities & Niman Ranch Announce Five Distinguished National Food Heroes

SANTA FE, N.M.- Edible Communities, the award-winning network of more than 80 independently-owned locally focused food magazines, today announced their selection of five food heroes who have gone above and beyond in 2020 to support their community during a time of great need. Recipients were selected from more than 300 nominations submitted by people from across the country as part of the “Impacting Lives Beyond the Plate” initiative, a joint partnership between Edible Communities and sustainable meat pioneer Niman Ranch.

The 2020 Beyond the Plate Food Heroes are:

  • Allison DeHonney, Urban Fruits and Veggies & Buffalo Go Green, Buffalo, NY
    As the President of Urban Fruits and Veggies (UFV) and founder of the non-profit Buffalo Go Green in Buffalo, NY, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in Spring 2020, Allison DeHonney quickly mobilized efforts to deliver free boxes of fresh produce to families in need throughout the city. Known for her commitment to urban farming, wellness and justice in diverse communities, Allison maintains an urban farm and mobile produce market that delivers healthy, nutritious food and education programs to underserved populations living in food deserts throughout the region.

    Read more about the importance of Allison’s community efforts here: http://www.ediblewesternny.com/shop/heart-market
  • Chef Ross Katz, Roosters Kitchen, Indianapolis, IN
    Chef Ross Katz grew up knowing he wanted to be in the restaurant business. He opened Rooster’s Kitchen in October 2016 and during the early days of this year’s pandemic, Katz like many small businesses, pivoted quickly due to circumstance, retooling his kitchen—not only to keep his customers supplied with take-out options and grocery goods, but also to expand his Feed it Forward program to aggressively support vulnerable populations. Using both monetary and product donations from businesses and individuals, Katz continues to focus on partnerships with local non-profits that address ongoing food insecurity. He has also provided thousands of meals to frontline workers.

    Read more about Chef Ross Katz’s Feed it Forward program here: www.edibleindy.com/food-thought/feed-it-forward
  • Chef Hugo Ortega, Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol, Xochi, Houston, Texas
    Hugo Ortega is executive chef/co-owner of four of Houston’s top restaurants and the winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards. At the start of pandemic restrictions earlier this year, Chef Ortega and his kitchen team partnered quickly with sponsors to ensure that meals were prepared and delivered routinely to frontline workers at local hospitals and first responders in Houston. Since then, he has continued to focus on feeding additional frontline workers and providing meals to unemployed restaurant-industry workers in the community.

    Read more about Chef Hugo Ortega’s involvement in his community here: www.ediblehouston.com/eat/exploring-deliciousness-insects
  • Chef Joe Phillips, Pints & Union Restaurant, New Albany, IN
    Chef Joe Phillips, owner of Pints and Union, has been heralded by peers as one of the most philanthropic forces in the Kentuckiana community since the start of Covid-19. Early on in the pandemic, Phillips and his team made sweeping efforts to shift their business model and sought resourceful partnerships to help support the community with relief efforts. Through a LEE Initiative Grant, they collected groceries to give to food industry workers who lost their jobs and made grocery and meal deliveries to vulnerable populations. He has also led his own fundraising efforts by selling masks, flags, t-shirts and other goods, to support those in need.

    Read more about Chef Joe Phillips efforts here: www.ediblekentucky.com/eat/rising-challenge-pints-union-restaurant-0
  • Chef Ryan Rizzuto, Kitchens for Good, San Diego, CA
    Kitchens for Good in San Diego believes that all food has power and that all people have potential. They empower individuals with culinary and hospitality training, along with the life skills needed to launch meaningful careers. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chef Ryan and his team at Kitchens for Good have prepared well over 100,000 nourishing meals for families and individuals in their community who are struggling to keep food on the table. They continue to offer these services as the pandemic wears on, earning their well-deserved designation as a food hero in their community.

    Read more about the work of Kitchens for Good here: www.ediblesandiego.com/articles/san-diego-county-nonprofits-fighting-for-change-through-social-enterprise

“It is heartening to see the heroic and vital efforts being performed by each of these individuals to help those in need during this very difficult time. Each of these winners has taken it upon themselves to do whatever it takes to help their communities survive some very dire situations and we could not be more proud of them, or of our local publishers who tell these stories in such powerful and important ways,” said Tracey Ryder, Co-Founder, Edible Communities.

Niman Ranch, a community of independent family farmers raising livestock humanely and sustainably, is rewarding the chosen Food Heroes with donations of their Certified Humane® meats to support relief efforts. These donations continue a series of initiatives from Niman Ranch to support the restaurant sector and impacted communities during the Covid Pandemic, including an $80,000 restaurant relief fund and donations of more than 70,000 servings of meat to those in need.

“Despite the many challenges 2020 has presented, particularly for those working in the hard-hit food industry, these Food Heroes stepped up to help their neighbors,” shared Chris Oliviero, Niman Ranch General Manager. “Their local relief efforts should inspire us all to ask how we can do more to support those in need.”

Edible Communities celebrates local food, season by season, community by community. With a network of more than 80 independently-owned, locally-focused magazines across the U.S. and Canada, we are the largest media organization devoted to telling the stories and sustaining the efforts of the farmers, chefs, food artisans, fishers, vintners, and home cooks who feed us. In addition to our award-winning content, we help people experience the vibrant flavors of local communities via Edible events, podcasts, and travel guides, along with fresh, seasonal recipes, videos and more. We explore the issues impacting local food cultures and economies through thought leadership forums and conferences. We advocate for healthy, nourishing food traditions.

Niman Ranch is a community of more than 750 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise pork, beef and lamb traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the Finest-Tasting Meat in the World®. Niman Ranch is the largest farmer and rancher network in North America to be Certified Humane®. The protein of choice for America’s most celebrated chefs, Niman Ranch is also the premier option for discerning home cooks looking for meats Raised with Care®, with no antibiotics or added hormones—ever. Follow Niman Ranch on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.