Chef Jennifer Johnson left corporate America 19 years ago. What makes her happy? Feeding people. She began her quest for fulfillment as a personal chef and now runs her own sustainability-focused catering company, which prepares meals for all ages and has become a leader in healthy, organic, and green dining experiences.
She was a natural fit to help launch the Feed Phoenix Initiative: a partnership between the City of Phoenix and Local First Arizona Foundation bringing local businesses, farmers, and producers together to make nutritious meals (in sustainable packaging) for homebound seniors and residents experiencing homelessness.
Johnson teamed up with local farm Green on Purpose to make 300 veggie-filled dishes of Pasta Primavera. Even while dealing with an ongoing pandemic, she is committed to serving her community and protecting the planet.
Find more Arizona green businesses to support at Az.greenbiztracker.org.
What is one thing that excites you about today’s food systems and one thing you’d like to change as soon as possible?
Arizona has a fantastic system with local farmers’ markets—you can find organic almost everywhere. Chemical-free food is so important.
Make healthy food and school lunches available to everyone—free school lunch programs are horrible—they do not provide the kids with enough calories, and the calories they do provide are many times empty calories. When you are hungry, you will eat what fills you up. It is proven that kids with good meals do better at school. That’s why I teach healthy eating on a budget at A New Leaf, and why I am part of the Fresh Food Collab, and all of our extra catering will go to Phoenix Day to help feed the youth who many times go home to no food.
How can parents at home make easy, healthy, and sustainable school lunches?
Start with good ingredients and share the job. Go to the farmers’ market together and make cooking fun. Use 5-7 ingredients only and keep it simple.
I find that when I shop at home two to three times a week, I do a better job eliminating food waste, and what I wanted to eat Sunday generally isn’t what I want on the next Friday.
My 2020-2021 school lunches feature butter noodles with seasonal vegetables, a la carte tacos, and yes, we get creative with the holidays.
To learn more and to see all of Chef Johnson’s services, visit Witnessingnature.net.