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Community Kitchen Inc Hires Dustin Speakman as CEO

Amber Hage-Ali Amber Hage-Ali Community Kitchen Inc Hires Dustin Speakman as CEO
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Quirky Dustin Speakman — dressed in a button up plaid shirt with a wooden bow tie and a set of thick framed glasses hugging his face — smiles and reclines in his new office chair.

“I grew up as a poor Appalachian kid from Southeastern Ohio,” Speakman reminisced. “My family’s homestead had no electricity and running water, believe it or not. So I grew up relying on food stamps — which is what it was called back then — and now it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, because that is what is… supplemental. Food stamps were never meant to meet all of your needs. That’s why organizations like Community Kitchen are so vitally important.”

On March. 17, Speakman accepted the position as the new CEO of Community Kitchen, a local organization serving the homeless.

“This is the greatest place I could be right now,” he stated. “I can do the most good here.”

Speakman first got involved with the non-profit sector back in 2002.

“I would often talk about how I hated my retail job and that I wasn’t making a difference in the world,” he said.

Seeking more fulfilling work, he took his partner’s advice and joined AmeriCorps, where he developed the first sponsorship of an AmeriCorps VISTA program, an anti-poverty program for at risk youth. From there he went to work for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, where he created an AmeriCorps program that became the largest state-based national service program in the country.

“Working for a more localized company is one of my challenges because I have always worked at a statewide and national level,” said Speakman. “The entire budget for Community Kitchen is smaller than the budget of my smallest program, but I have expertise in fundraising and volunteering. That has really prepared me to take on this organization.”

Speakman plans on implementing his fundraising skills to incorporate new and improved programs. Currently, Community Kitchen operates a Summer Food Service Program, which feeds hungry kids nutritious food when school is out. Speakman plans on expanding this program to include educational actives for the children.

“I’ve gotten a couple of grants that will enable us to do nutrition and healthy living activities with the kids,” said Speakman enthusiastically. “I figured while we got them as a captive audience for a couple of hours each day we might as well take the opportunity to teach them something.”

Expanding programs for at risk youth is a big priority on Speakman’s hefty to-do list.

“I would also like to bring the zoo to the children,” he added. “The kids that we serve have a really hard time making it out to the Columbus Zoo. Most of them don’t have the money for the admission fee.”

Incorporating positive activities for youth and families is an important supplemental element Speakman plans to emphasize at Community Kitchen.

“It’s hard often for families to sit down and have a meal together,” he said. “We truly want to strengthen families over food.”

Community Kitchen is always in need of volunteers and donations. Just twenty dollars could feed one person for an entire week.

To volunteer or donate go to communitykitchencolumbus.org.

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