Spotlight – USF Free Community Dinner

Meet professor Novella Carpenter, and the USF Community Garden Outreach Class of 2014! Every first Thursday of the month this class teams up with ARC (Arts, Resilience, Community) at Turk & Lyon to host a vegetarian/vegan free dinner for the community. (Click on photos for enlarged versions)


Everyone did a fabulous job for the dinner in February. This blog will be an overview of the last dinner to show you the process of how this class operates. So, you may be wondering, where does the food come from? And why is it healthy? Well, the class gets the food in three main ways: The first and most important is gleaning from local farmers markets. To glean, students go to local farmer’s markets and at the end, ask each of the farmers if they have any bruised or unwanted vegetables they could donate to a Free Community Dinner. The generosity of the farmers is astounding and the dinner could not operate without their support.

Divisadero Farmer’s Market

The second way we collect for the dinner is by harvesting food from our very own USF Garden located on Turk & Tamalpais, only three blocks from St. Cyprian’s (at Turk & Lyon). After gleaning and harvesting the class has the bulk of their food and can start to plan out a menu based on what they’ve obtained. The last step is taking a trip to Rainbow Grocery to buy staple bulk food items like rice or pasta. On the first Thursday of the month, the class meets at Cyprian’s Community Kitchen to prepare and cook dinner.  Students begin the afternoon with instruction on kitchen safety and proper food preparation, and then they get chopping, sautéing, and cooking!  This part can be really fun, chaotic, and educational.  The class did a great job for their first community dinner of the semester!

Prepping meal room
Prepping the meal room
Prepping the kitchen
Prepping the kitchen
Chopping veggies
Chopping veggies

After hours of hard work and many cooking lessons, dinner was served at 6 PM.


Eventually the Community Hall was filled with hungry, happy people enjoying food and good company.



The food was DELICIOUS! On the menu was:

Mixed Green Salad with radish, orange, mint, cilantro, and green onion.
Mixed Green Salad with radish, orange, mint, cilantro, and green onion.
Hot potato soup with radish, onion, butter, rutabaga, and rosemary.
Hot potato soup with radish, onion, butter, rutabaga, and rosemary.
Pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, olive oil, and collard greens
Pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, olive oil, and collard greens

And a dessert of blondie bars and vegan gluten free crumble…

Gluten Free Crumble
Gluten Free Crumble

All in all the meal left us all with full stomachs and happy faces ☺



Pictured above is the current teacher of the class, Professor Novella Carpenter (center), with former class instructors, Professor Melinda Stone (left), and Professor David Silver (right). Professor Silver and Professor Stone began the Urban Agriculture program at USF around three years ago. Professor Stone along with Seth Wachtel created the USF Garden around eight years ago. We wouldn’t have these amazing dinners without them. They began this partnership with ARC and St. Cyprian’s due to the lack of access to functioning kitchens in the area.

It is rare to have a great kitchen and open space to hold these dinners.  The dream at Turk & Lyon is to create a thriving community commercial kitchen that feeds the hungry, builds community, and promotes health and wellness.  To fully achieve this dream, we need your support!  The kitchen needs additional storage for its partners like USF, an energy efficient dishwasher, an industrial hood for the stove, and new wiring for its brand new commercial oven. The image below is the renovation design plans for the kitchen:


Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation if you are able.

You can Donate Online

Or by mail: St. Cyprian’s Community Kitchen; Attn: ARC; 2097 Turk St. San Francisco, CA 94115

You’re always welcome to volunteer at the kitchen too.  Email for ways to plugin.The great thing about the Free USF Community Dinner is that every time it gets better! Students begin to master their gardening, gleaning, and cooking skills as the year goes on.  March is just around the corner and we hope to see you there! March 6th at 6 PM.

By Sam Wilder, ARC Media Intern

Posted in ARC, Cyprian's Community Kitchen and tagged , , , , .