By Shana Siren Kempton
She had a kitchen, connections, and a desire to end child hunger. For Gina Reardon, it was the perfect recipe for good. The fire was lit and Kansas City’s first bake sale benefiting No Kid Hungry was underway. What started off as a decision to put her catering skills to philanthropic use in 2014 has risen to a record-setting, community-wide endeavor with one goal – provide food to kids facing food instability. To date, the Kansas City chapter of No Kid Hungry has raised $335,000.
On Saturday, October 30, Reardon and team aim to add another $15,000 toward the cause.
The No Kid Hungry bake sale located in Brookside features sweet, savory, and pantry items donated by professional, community, and rising generation bakers. Reardon has pulled together an impressive line up of sponsors, contributors, and enticing delights including Broadmoor Bistro’s famous English muffins, Di’s Sweetie Pies, and JC Gregg’s French macarons, to name a few. Even Mayor Quinton Lucas is baking for the cause to raise both money and awareness so that kids in America can have three healthy meals a day.
This culinary coming together of the community for good carries with it a buzz, and if history repeats itself, all items will be sold out by afternoon.
“Culinary professionals at their core have a need to feed,” says Reardon. “Whatever they’re creating, they’re infusing that product with a piece of themselves to give somebody an experience that nourishes them and brings them joy.”
Chef Vince Paredes is one such chef who knows the power of chemistry in the kitchen and the community, and he wants to give back. His entire staff is involved in the bake sale again, providing peanut butter cheesecakes and ham, leek, and mushroom quiches made with locally sourced ingredients.
“Community is home, togetherness, support. It’s really everything,” says Paredes who took over The Farmhouse located in the River Market in 2018, just before the pandemic shut everything down. “We told ourselves that if we came out of it we were going to do as much with the community – as many fundraisers and foundation work – as we could. It was a goal coming out of quarantine.”
Paredes pairs the flavors of his Mexican heritage with Midwestern classics such as burnt end tamales to showcase local meats and seasonal produce for brunch and dinner at his farm to fork establishment.
The Farmhouse has successfully emerged from the quarantine and is keeping their promise to the community. “Kansas City is home and it feels like we’re taking care of home,” says Paredes.
Heirloom Bakery and Hearth located in the heart of Brookside is another participant in the Bake Sale that values community and giving back. Owners Scott and Kate Meinke wondered how they would fare through the pandemic. “The community showed up for us,” says Meinke. “We’re a community bakery – a gathering place for people to come together. No Kid Hungry is another way we can help give back whether it’s directly to our community or to others in general.”
Heirloom is a cozy home away from home where people come to connect and nourish their souls. That’s what good food does. Known for their honey rosemary lattes and spent grain sourdough bread made from the spent grains of the brewery down the street, everything is created from scratch and ingredients come from a host of local farmers and suppliers. Stacks of their fan favorite Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies will be available at the Bake Sale.
Paredes and the Meinkes are representative of the nearly 100 celebrity, chef, and community bakers to participate in this fall’s No Kid Hungry Bake Sale at 6336 Brookside Plaza from 9 am-2 pm on Saturday, October 30.