Volunteer Spotlight: Carl Ebinger

Carl has always loved cooking at home, but it wasn’t until recently that he discovered how much good he could do with that hobby. In just a year and a half, Carl has become a core Nutrition Ambassador and a go-to “expert” on certain ingredients and cooking techniques in The Kitchen’s Community Classes.

Carl found The Kitchen at Second Harvest when he was looking for a way to combine his love of cooking with a way to give back to his community. “I feel like I’ve been really lucky in my life,” he said. “A couple of wrong turns or bad luck situations could have had me in the same situation as a lot of people who are coming to these classes.”

Through his interactions with class participants, Carl has learned how hard it can be for some people to access fresh groceries “I wish people realized that the need isn’t from laziness or apathy. It’s just from lack of resources,” he said. That’s why he finds so much value in teaching people how to cook the fresh produce available at their local food bank—and how to have fun while doing it, too.

One of Carl’s favorite memories in The Kitchen is when he and other Kitchen staff and volunteers helped an autistic teen discover his love for a savory cherry salad they had made during class—much to the surprise of the boy’s parents. “He just devoured it and actually went back for seconds, and his parents were just looking at us like, ‘This is Mr. I Will Never Eat Vegetables!’” said Carl, laughing as he recalled the interaction.

Of course, Carl has a few favorite recipes from The Kitchen, but it’s the people he meets there that make it worthwhile. “It’s been really enriching. I’ve interacted with people who normally wouldn’t even be visible to me—people who have a lot of need and really need the help that Second Harvest provides. In my day-to-day life, I don’t usually meet people in those situations,” he said. “It’s really enlightening and kind of humbling to meet all of them, and that’s a big part of what keeps me coming back—seeing that the few hours a week I put in can really help people out a lot.”

Thank you, Carl, for sharing your love of cooking with everyone you meet in The Kitchen!

Carl (left) and other awesome Kitchen volunteers and staff!