Growing Futures, Harvesting Dreams

Anna Brennan’s mother first taught her how to cook when she was a little girl. Today, she’s doing the same for her two-year-old daughter Illyana.

“I like to bake,” says Illyana with a big smile.

“I’ve always cooked and I enjoy being in the kitchen with people,” says Anna.  

When Anna heard about the Dubuque Rescue Mission’s free Rooted Chef program, she saw an opportunity to learn new skills and further her cooking career. The program teaches low-income and underemployed participants the principles of growing produce and preparing fresh food at home and in food service, as well as how to transfer what they’ve learned into successful job interviews.

Rooted Chef participants also earn ServSafe certification, a food handling training required by restaurants as a basic credential for management staff. This certification will allow Anna to take on greater responsibility and work more hours at Fried Green Tomatoes, where she currently works as a cook.

“To make good food, you’ve got to put soul into it, and you’ve got to work with it,” she says. “I’m excited to learn new things in the kitchen and the garden. I think this will open up new opportunities for me.”

The Dubuque Rescue Mission was one of ten nonprofits that received a 2015 Community Impact Grant. Since the program’s inception in 2004, the Foundation has awarded a total of $353,110 to local nonprofits.

Community Impact Grants are made possible by donations to the Foundation’s Community Impact fund and help make local programs like Rooted Chef possible for people like Anna.

“Nonprofits are the boots on the ground, serving community members in need,” says Nancy Van Milligen, Foundation president/CEO.

“Community Impact Grants provide essential support for programs that make a real difference in people’s lives. We could not be more grateful to the many donors who make these grants possible.”

To support the Community Impact Fund, visit

This article was posted in the 2015 summer issue of Giving Matters. To subscribe to this publication and others like it, click here to join our mailing list.

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Jeff Danna
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About Us
Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.