Generous donations from the equipment and supplies industry and a wide-ranging collaborative effort have helped build a new kitchen for a Houston shelter.

Cooking Up Better Lives (formerly known as The Excell Foundation) teamed up with the Houston Food Bank and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association for its inaugural “Better Lives Makeover.” The project encompassed the design, furnishing and installation of kitchen equipment and supplies at The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, one of the state’s largest comprehensive crisis centers. Its kitchen serves more than 137,000 meals each year to more than 800 shelter residents and children in its permanent childcare program. More than $150,000 in foodservice equipment and supplies were donated by more than 20 companies to help complete the kitchen. They include: Captive-Aire Systems; Carlisle FoodService Products; Continental Refrigerator; Edlund Co.; Excell Marketing and Procurement; FirstBank of Colorado; Focus Foodservice; Hangman Corp.; Hoshizaki America; Houston Food Bank; Howard-McCray; Insinger Machines; John Boos; Krowne Metal; Nexel Industries; Nor-Lake Inc.; Olympic Restaurant Equipment; SupremeMetal; Southbend; and Wholesale Restaurant Supply.

"Given the current economic conditions, it has never been more important for foodservice professionals to give back through support of Cooking Up Better Lives and donation of first-rate restaurant equipment and supplies," said Ray Merenstein, the group’s executive director. "There are too many human-service needs in our communities now to ignore the kind of impact we, as an industry, can have." The organization was formed to create a new level of social responsibility and community fulfillment in the foodservice industry by arranging no- or low-cost donations of kitchen equipment and supplies to shelters, schools, hospitals, group homes, orphanages and other worthy organizations. More at


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