Breaking the cycle of poverty one meal at a time
A vivid red food truck summoned children from the playground at a Santa Ana after-school program with a loud burst of its distinctive horn: Aah-oooh-gah. A burly, bearded guy with a clean-shaven head steered Betsy, his 1986 truck, into a nearby parking lot where portable tables were set for dinner under pop-up tents.
Chef Bill Bracken had come to serve free, hot meals and take-home add-ons that he and a corps of volunteers prepared for the children and their families, all homeless or hungry, or often, both.
Betsy may be the most visible element of Bracken’s Kitchen, an innovative hunger-relief program started in 2013 by the former luxury hotel executive chef. The truck is one of a trio of services that also includes a recovered-food program and, coming soon, chef training that gives at-risk youth culinary job skills while they provide Bracken’s Kitchen with labor assistance.