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Her day begins with heading into YouthWorks’ kitchen, checking in with trainees and staff members to get the crew prepared for making 150 emergency shelter meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Afterwards, she cooks in-house meals for YouthWorks’ crews and office staff. While leading those tasks, she manages a team of 15-20 staff and trainees throughout the day as they prepare and distribute meals for numerous sites across Santa Fe. She and her team also prepare 275 meals daily for the grab-and-go youth meals program, ensuring children and teens have a daily prepared meal, as well as supervise the preparation of 60 emergency meals for homebound individuals living in emergency housing in hotels. This is the average day for the not so average Catalyst for Change Award by FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens winner, Jacqueline “Jackie” Gibbs.

Jackie Gibbs is YouthWorks’ Social Justice Kitchen’s Culinary Program Director. Those who learn and work with her share their appreciation of her establishing trust, accountability and connection to their work environment. These attributes support Jackie’s belief that a critical part of her job as a director is giving multiple opportunities to trainees who find it difficult to adjust to YouthWork’s program schedule and structure. She teaches her trainees that the skills gained in the culinary arts are skills that can be used for the rest of their lives and that everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to prepare healthy, innovative meals for themselves and for others.

Jackie adds, “I love working with youth using my experience and training to help guide them in the right direction. I have a passion for what I do in culinary training and operations because I know that everyone, no matter what their background, deserves the opportunity to be able to receive training and education for a successful life.  Culinary work builds life skills and our social justice kitchen gives the opportunity to be able to give back to our community through healthy food.” 

Jackie demonstrated her strong organizational and leadership abilities when she, her staff and trainees met the food security challenges that came with the pandemic by serving over 450,000 emergency meals to children and families in Santa Fe in 2020.

Jackie’s nominator describes her as, “a very driven person who exemplifies positivity, good humor, and determination. Jackie is an inspiration and an exceptional role model for all who have the opportunity to work in her presence.”

The Catalyst Kitchens team says, “Jackie’s undeniable dedication to her students and community is what makes the Catalyst Kitchens network so inspiring. She truly personifies the values of the Catalyst Kitchens member network and FareStart. The unwavering commitment of member leaders, like Jackie, is what truly drives the change members seek in their communities.”

YouthWorks has grown since its inception to include collaborations with many partners in the community and across [northern New Mexico]. Since 2001, YouthWorks has served thousands of youth while expanding youth development opportunities that include youth advocacy, high-impact interventions, alternative education, and employment connections for young people.

Past Winners

Every year since 2015, our network has honored the amazing work of someone making a difference and changing lives through work in a member program.  Read about their stories by clicking below.