Chef James Cunningham and the Bread and Roses Café provide more than just meals to the unhoused

The chef was honored on the ABC7 Morning Show with an Early Risers celebration

Friday, February 2, 2024
Chef James and the Bread and Roses Café provide meals to the unhoused
Chef James is the heart and soul of the Bread and Roses Café. This morning, ABC7 and his staff of volunteers paid tribute to him.

ABC7 Eyewitness News Mornings is celebrating the people who wake up early to make a difference. We call them ABC7 Early Risers.

Today's Early Riser is Chef James Cunningham, the Program Manager at St. Joseph's Center's Bread and Roses Café in Venice.

"Some people ask me why I do this work. And real simply, I do this work to make an impact," says Chef James.

The sun is not even up when Chef James arrives at the cafe. For years, he's showed up at 3:30am to prepare hundreds of free meals for those who are unhoused and hungry.

Chef James is serving more than just a meal. He's serving respect for his clients.

Chef James leads a team of volunteers at the Bread and Roses Cafe to serve the unhoused in Venice.

"I do this work because I believe in humanizing homelessness," says Chef James.

And he isn't just serving a grab-and-go lunch. Everyone gets to sit down at a table with a white table cloth and a rose, and is served a hot meal with dignity they might not get elsewhere.

While the clients love the warm food, they leave with a warm heart.

"I wouldn't be clothed. I wouldn't be fed. And I love these people," stated one of the diners.

Chef James was nominated to be an Early Riser by a volunteer at the cafe, Rick Nelson.

"I'm just one of the many people who love this man for what he does and who he is," said Nelson. "I volunteer on Thursday mornings and it's the best part of my week."

Other volunteers say Chef James has created an environment where you know that when you walk in the doors, you're with family.

One volunteer stated, "I love the people and the work that I'm doing. The work matters."

"St. Joseph's has empowered me, giving me a place to shower, get my mail, and a worker that helps you find housing." added another diner.

His food may be great, but it's Chef James passion for the people that makes him an ABC7 Early Riser.

"Who can feel down about themselves after they come to Bread and Roses? It's like a whole new person has walked out that door. And with that being said, let's get to work," exclaimed Chef James.

The Bread and Roses Café is funded by private donations. If you'd like to help Chef James provide meals to those in need, click here.