In recognition of Black History Month this past February, Rich Products was proud to collaborate with Upstate New York Black & Latino Pride for a celebration of food and culture, highlighted by a cooking demo and sampling with Chef Jake Brach, Manager of Culinary Programs, Community Engagement at Rich Products. 

Led by Kaleidoscope, the associate resource group (ARG) dedicated to supporting and empowering Rich’s diverse workforce, the event featured culturally relevant and inclusive recipes from Providence Farm Collective and sourced from the cookbook The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food.    

The event’s resounding success was due in part to the undeniable connection that food plays in the celebration of culturally diverse communities. Traditional recipes and delicious meals have a long history of helping our neighbors connect with each other, and enriching our understanding of different backgrounds.

“The event was a great opportunity to embrace and celebrate the intersectionality of underrepresented communities and cultures through a universal and common denominator—food—and the enjoyment and educational aspects it brings.”

-Chris Cobb, Rich Products, Group Leader

Important lessons can be taken from the dishes themselves. Food can retain the story of a group that’s historically faced oppression or a culture that hasn’t been respected or appreciated by society as a whole. 

As we sit at a table together, we gain more exposure and awareness of the ways social injustice or food insecurity have influenced certain recipes. Jollof rice is one such example; its origin can be traced as far back as 14th century West Africa. 

“Our work with Black & Latino Pride gives me the opportunity to research global cuisines, understand broader perspectives, and explore new recipes. Learning about ingredients and food cultures makes me a better chef and shapes our ability to serve our customers and community.”

Chef Jake Brach (Retired), Manager of Culinary Programs, Community Engagement at Rich Products

Black History Month acknowledges the struggles and the endurance of the Black community in the United States, and across the world. It honors the courage and capacity needed to overcome great adversity, and the unparalleled determination it’s taken to not only survive, but thrive throughout history.

“This collaboration really goes deeper than just a cooking demo. Addressing issues such as access to food, while being culturally responsive, is one of the most meaningful aspects of this collaborative relationship. Being able to connect the community in such an intimate setting is a dream of mine.” 

-Tajé Jenkins-Jones, Founder of Upstate New York Black & Latino Pride

Learn more about the important work that Upstate New York Black & Latino Pride is doing in our region.