Mission:FoodPossible: Peter Ivey Serving Up Jamaican Authenticity and Food Security

Chef Peter Ivey © Courtesy of Mission:FoodPossible

By Raye Mocioiu

Chef Peter Ivey, CEO and founder of The Reggae Chefs and the creator of Mission:FoodPossible, is proof that leaving home doesn’t mean home leaves you.

Growing up in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Ivey was an intuitive child with a keen sense of the disparities in his community—a trait that blossomed into a desire to help others as he got older. After migrating to New York at 17, Ivey sought to merge his passion for entrepreneurship and his drive to make a difference in the world. The shift, he explained, came from attending a reggae show in Vegas—a taste of home that changed it all.

Seeing the consumption of his culture in such a celebratory light made him realize that he had something incredibly valuable—and innate. His hometown knowledge and his passion for food could lead to a life-changing opportunity.

“I called up my best friend in Jamaica, and I said, ‘Hey, this is what I saw in Las Vegas,'” Ivey shared. “In talking to my friend, I said, ‘Look, I saw people gravitating to Jamaican culture; I think we can do something with that.'”

This idea became The Reggae Chefs, fusing Jamaican culture and food to create tailored “edutainment”—a vibrant mix of education and entertainment. Their first aprons came from the 99¢ Store, but within months of starting The Reggae Chefs, the business was featured in the media, recognized as a Business Visionary in New York—a service that served the community, realizing a long-time dream for Ivey.

Building on their success, Ivey decided to take it up a notch. He traveled the world, documenting his findings in a series called Scattered Jamaica.

peter ivey
Chef Peter Ivey © Courtesy of Mission:FoodPossible

“I was looking for Jamaican culture but also learning the differences in how people eat around the world,” he said. “At the same time, I enrolled in a culinary course and learned that more people are cooking than ever before. But if that’s true, how are more people hungry than ever before?

“Chefs are becoming rock stars in the world, culinary schools are full of excited students, but there are so many people in the world who are either starving or don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

According to the World Food Programme, there are 828 million hungry people battling food insecurity—45 million children under five years of age are estimated to suffer from acute malnutrition each year. Even in countries like Jamaica, with abundant fruit trees and crops, many families and children are going hungry.

This realization led Ivey to create Mission:FoodPossible, a non-profit organization that focuses on sustainable approaches to addressing food insecurity. Mission:Food Possible aims to provide long-term solutions to the problem of food insecurity by identifying MVPs—Most Valuable Produce—in each region.

The first Mission:FoodPossible took place in Old Harbour, St. Catherine. He and a group of chefs came together to create unique foods that could be made with easily accessible produce.

“We’re not coming here to teach them things they already know,” he explained. “We’re showing them more ways to consume the food around them.”

The organization uses a three-day training module focusing on Education, Training, and Empowerment to eradicate food insecurity. What makes it unique is that they’re not only feeding communities but also closing the knowledge gap by teaching participants to feed themselves.

The opportunities continued to build—in 2019, Mission:FoodPossible began a training program for kitchen staff in primary schools in Jamaica—where almost half of the population is food insecure—this training has enhanced the existing meals at these schools. On top of that, Ivey has written children’s books that tackle complex topics like food insecurity in ways that children understand and families can talk about.

“At the end of the day, I’m a regular person,” Ivey said. “I’ve felt the pain of hunger myself. I know the feeling of an empty stomach. What makes this program work, what makes people trust us, is that our work has no conditions and no connections to anything but our community.”

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