Inspired Women

INSPIRED WOMEN

good food

in partnership with Food Network Magazine

Graphic banner with the portraits of  all of the women for food  - (left to right) Lavanya Mahate, Sandra Aleman - Nijjar, Valerie Segrest, and Karen Rogers

This month, we’re featuring inspiring women who demonstrate that food is a universal way to show love, support and respect, wherever you live and whatever language you speak. From teaching young children and elders to feeding those who require nourishment of both body and soul, J.Jill’s Inspired Women know that food is love and cooking for good is possible in every community.

Image of Sandra

SANDRA
ALEMAN-NIJJAR
FOUNDER, EAST BOSTON COMMUNITY SOUP KITCHEN
EAST BOSTON, MA

“Life isn’t easy for anyone. Sometimes we just need that helping hand to lift us up.” Living in East Boston, Sandra Aleman-Nijjar sees both the luxury construction happening along the city’s waterfront and the many homeless that are often ignored. In 2016, Sandra set out to help those in need by establishing the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen in the basement of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Every Tuesday, she serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, feeding the body and spirit of many in Eastie. Relying on food donations from local businesses and restaurants as well as private individuals in the community, Sandra’s kitchen is 100% volunteer run and funded. In addition to providing meals, she connects people to social services like health care, dental care, substance detox and, even the simplest of needs—a nice shower. Walk through her doors and Sandra is your friend. She considers all of her guests “her kids.”
Learn more at ebkitchen.org

image of Valerie

VALERIE
SEGREST,
MUCKLESHOOT TRIBAL MEMBER AND DIRECTOR OF THE MUCKLESHOOT TRIBE'S FOOD SOVEREIGNTY PROJECT
SEATTLE, WA

“When you feed something, it grows. And when we take better care of the land, we take better care of ourselves.” As a nutritionist and the director of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, Valerie provides dietary education and strives to strengthen food sovereignty (the right of a community to define its own diet and therefore shape its own food system) within her Native American community. Promoting active citizenship within the Muckleshoot Tribe, Valerie’s efforts ensure the community has access to their traditional tribal foods, medicines and teachings.
Learn more at americanindian.si.edu and www.feedingthespirit.org

image of Karen

KAREN
ROGERS
FOUNDER, SPROUTS COOKING CLUB
SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Growing up with a doctor for a father and an avid gardener for a mother, Karen learned food can heal. With childhood obesity tripling over the past 30 years, Karen aims to help underprivileged children and young people in her community, regardless of background, to live healthier, more sustainable lives through food and cooking. She also uses food to help bridge the socioeconomic divide by training young adults to secure culinary jobs. Sprouts’ hands-on cooking classes (serving children ages 7-12) and Chef-in-Training Program (vocational training for young adults ages 16–24) feature some of the Bay Area’s best chefs as instructors. Karen says, one youth at a time, lesson by lesson, she’s thrilled to bring the health, sustainability and FUN back to good food.
Learn more at sproutscookingclub.org

image of Lavanya

LAVANYA
MAHATE
OWNER, SAFFRON VALLEY RESTAURANT GROUP AND FOUNDER OF THE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION SAFFRON KITCHEN
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Raised in Southern India, Lavanya owns and operates Saffron Valley Restaurant Group, comprised of seven Indian restaurants and bakeries in and around Salt Lake City. In addition to her work in the food and beverage industry, Lavanya’s partnered with the Utah Refugee Training and Education Center in providing free training to refugees and disadvantaged youth, helping them learn culinary skills useful for job placement. Her latest philanthropic project, Saffron Kitchen, opens this fall.
Learn more at saffronvalley.com

INSPIRED WOMEN
A J.JILL ORIGINAL VIDEO SERIES

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