Completed Projects

A Community Kitchen at El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) ~REVISED!!~

A Community Kitchen at El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) ~REVISED!!~

We are excited to announce a revision to the original $130,000 project, A Brand New Commercial Kitchen & Dining Room Renovation at ECHO (El Camino Homeless Organization). We recently increased to a $385,000 investment to serve ECHO residents and the ENTIRE North County Community better. 

Must! funding will support a renovation that creates a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen space for future use as a training and workforce development center. This project will serve both ECHO residents and low-income residents of North County. The revised project has the ability to provide a much-needed supply of potential employees trained in the culinary & hospitality fields. The revision also includes a component for social enterprise, in which job skills can be developed, and the organization will have the ability to create revenue from an end product.


  • The number of homeless families in SLO County increased by 37% between 2017 and January 2019.
  • With unemployment rates at an all-time low, employers are struggling to find & hire employees.
  • Currently, ECHO spends over $6,000 on disposable goods to feed 85 people each night.


ECHO programs and services will fill a much-needed gap for local employers by establishing programming onsite.  This opportunity will allow individuals to obtain jobs more quickly than previously expected. This project will also cut disposable use of kitchen items resulting in a positive return for the environment and ECHO’s bottom line. ECHO residents will benefit from three hot meals daily at the shelter, allowing them to put more money toward saving for their permanent housing costs.


In 2017 we launched the first partnership with ECHO. At the time, the shelter needed help as they were in a transition period. Must! Invested in the foundation of the organization and helped strategize for growth, operate more efficiently, hire key employees, become a 24-hour shelter, ultimately resulting in over 60% of their residents obtaining permanent housing and job placements last year.

This project recently morphed into a project that far surpassed our original expectations. This recent revision is an example of our evocative giving partnership and transparent communication. When other needs and opportunities came forward and proved these new revisions would be best for our community and the organization, must! didn't hesitate to up the funding. Be sure to follow along as this project unfolds, as it is one of the best community collaborative efforts we've ever seen.


Our Commitment

this investment when all is complete will produce several outcomes that will benefit the organization, its residents, as well as our community. We are calling this the "must! community kitchen & culinary workforce development center".


  • Access to jobs for residents.  The commercial upgrades will provide a setting for job skills training, increasing resident’s hiring appeal and speeding up their ability to secure jobs.
  • Improved health for residents.  Being healthy reduces lost wages, economic instability, and health care spending. The upgrades will allow residents to participate in healthy cooking classes, create a place where healthy breakfast and lunches can be prepared, and offer supplemented cooking opportunities for the already amazing dinner program provided by volunteers. Food safety and sanitation will be easier to maintain.
  • Cost savings and benefits for the environment.  The cost and waste of disposable plates, bowls, and utensils will be eliminated along with other resident and staff expenses currently incurred.
  • Increased support for mental wellness at the shelter.  Dinner can be a difficult time for residents with mental health issues. The renovated serving area will cut down long-delayed wait lines, allow for more personal interaction with community volunteers, and provide a more welcoming evening routine that will help residents in their recovery.
  • Social Enterprise Opportunity.  Not only will this be a training ground for job skills & job placement. Community partnerships are in the works to utilize this space for ECHO to create, package, market, and sell a product - teaching job skills across many disciplines and also creating an additional revenue stream to support the infrastructure of the programming and the kitchen upkeep and maintenance.


Project Progress


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