Famed Louisville chef and restaurateur teams up with JCPS to feed families

Chef Edward Lee saw a recent report that 8 million people are slipping into poverty because of the pandemic and decided to get to work.
Updated: Nov. 14, 2020 at 12:08 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS has been feeding over 300,000 children since the pandemic began, a crucial piece of the COVID puzzle, but now they’re getting some relief from a famed Louisville chef and restaurateur.

Chef Edward Lee saw a recent report that 8 million people are slipping into poverty because of the pandemic, and while he can’t help them all, he figured he could start chipping away in Louisville, one family meal at a time.

“If we can prevent a couple of families from slipping into poverty by helping them out with these meals, like, that’s what we’re here for,” Lee said.

Lee wanted to get started back in August, but all good things take time, and the Lee Initiative team has been fighting fiercely behind the scenes to get the initiative up and running.

“I’m glad we’re doing it now it’s so critical as the winter is right around the corner. Families are really struggling,” Lee said.

With the help of JCPS, Louisville Metro, Humana, Churchill Downs and Audi, he’s hoping a long harsh COVID winter might get a little warmer for JCPS families that depend on the meal program.

“We really want to sort of take the stigma, you know, out of, like, accepting a free meal,” Lee said. “We know that these are crazy times and people are just needing meals, not because of anything that they did wrong, because it’s just crazy times.”

Crazy times not only for the families being served, but the people who serve them. Lee rallied the troops and got 50 unemployed chefs back in the kitchen to turn out 9,000 meals a week that serve four people all out of Churchill Downs' massive kitchen.

“If you go to Churchill Downs right now, it looks like Derby every day,” Lee said. “They produce them, they are flash frozen, and then we deliver them.”

They’re not an average frozen TV dinner. They’re fresh, chef-crafted recipes made from scratch.

“This is coming from my family to your family,” Lee said. “They’re delicious, they’re healthy, and it not only saves you money, but more importantly, if you’re a single mom, trying to work, trying to home school, it saves you time.”

With a goal of feeding families, creating jobs, spreading goodwill and restoring pride to the city. But Lee asks for one thing in return.

“Enjoy the meal, think of me when you do, and you know, spread the love,” Lee said.

The meals will come frozen with instructions to reheat in the oven or microwave. JCPS will make meals available once a week at each meal site. They will be distributed at some JCPS sites on Tuesdays and the remaining sites on Thursdays.

Families can call schools to find out where you can get one.

Click here to see how you can help out the Lee Initiative.

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