Ty Lawson decided a long time ago, while apprenticing at the French La Tour Restaurant in Colorado, that he wanted to use his talents to serve people in need and not people in restaurants.
Today, he’s a chef at Red Apron, a funky restaurant inside Northeast D.C.’s new charmer Union Market that specializes in sandwiches and meats, and an ardent supporter of the Capital Area Food Bank.
Lawson has always been interested in food insecurity issues – he obtained a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State, with a focus on food security and nutrition and served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, Africa.
“Hunger issues are hunger issues everywhere. It’s not always visible; people can get up, get dressed and still be hungry.”
During Obama’s Call to Service in January of this year, Lawson helped pack and sort food at the CAFB’s Northeast food distribution center. And that’s how he got involved with the food bank.
He has since created healthy recipes for food bank partners and clients, held food demonstrations in the agency lounge and even taught a group of teenagers how to make healthy alternatives to their favorite meals during a six-week Cooking Matters course – a feat he admitted was quite an experience.
“Dealing with teenage girls was a bit chaotic. They were hesitant at first to use whole wheat dough for our pizza dish and even more reluctant to bake chicken but in the end they loved it,” said Lawson. He also taught the teens how to prepare ranch dressing, omelets and quesadillas.
As a trained chef, Lawson understands that if food doesn’t taste good, then people don’t want to eat it. He explained that cooking with herbs and spices is more flavorful and healthier than cooking with salt and fat. He also understands that nutritious food is expensive. During his Cooking Matters courses, he showed participants how to get the most out of food and their food budgets.
Lawson continues to contribute his talents, because he’s impressed with the food bank’s multifaceted approach to hunger and its combination of food distribution with nutrition education. The food bank relies on the support of community partners to further its mission of nourishing those in need and educating those it serves. A special thank you to Ty Lawson for his help in empowering residents in need.