SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In a letter sent to Ozarksfirst.com, former workers at The Kitchen Inc. are calling out leadership, hoping to catch the eye of the board of trustees. 

“We wanted to maybe shed some light on to the board of directors on just how the leadership is there, how toxic the culture can be predominantly caused by the current leadership there. ” Former worker Dallas Brede said. 

Brede is just one of 24 former workers who signed the letter, speaking about their experiences working for one of the largest groups fighting homelessness. 

“A lot of it came down to a lack of appreciation or lack of recognition. You know, there was the sense that that the hired, you know, they looked down on us.” Brede said. “I’ve witnessed a lot of, you know, specific leaders talking down toward people like they’re less of people or they’re dumb or their job is just, you know, dispensable, easily replaceable. I’ve seen a lot of fakeness there.” 

KOLR10 reached out to The Kitchen. 

They provided a statement saying, “We hold our staff and programs to the highest standards and expect all to adhere to our core values of respect, dignity, quality, service and compassion.” 

The organization says they are not able to comment on previous employee relationships. 

Brede says positive change between leadership and employees is the ultimate goal. 

“We’re not looking for, you know, new leadership if they can make changes and hopefully change for the better.” Brede said. “We know what TKI is capable of. Just think if it can be, what it can be capable of with a happy working group of employees. We don’t want this ‘we’re all a bunch of disgruntled former employees’ because we’re not. I mean, we’re a great mix of people who left on their own accord.

Here is the full letter given to Ozarksfirst.com from the Board of Trustees of the Kitchen Inc.:

The Board of Trustees of the Kitchen Inc. nor the leaders of the organization are able to comment on any previous employee relationships, including those that have not been part of the team for several months or years.

During the past year The Kitchen Inc. (TKI) has accomplished a great deal in its efforts to bring stability and purpose to people who are homeless. TKI has also spent time and resource in the review of its processes and the development of the staff and volunteer teams. We hold our staff and programs to the highest standards and expect all to adhere to our core values of respect, dignity, quality, service and compassion.

In April the Council on Accreditation (COA) coanet.org conducted a thorough review of TKI and based on their findings, COA’s Accreditation Commission voted that The Kitchen, Inc. had successfully met the criteria for reaccreditation. TKI received no out of compliance ratings in any fundamental practice standards. The COA is a voluntary review process for social and human services organizations and involves the submission of information as well as on site visit review which includes interviews with the staff, Board of Trustees, clients and tour of facilities. The review focused on CEO and management performance, financial stability, human resources policies and procedures, programming and board governance. CO evaluated all aspects of The Kitchen’s programs, services, management, and administration.

This summer TKI underwent a successful strategic planning process with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks that involved TKI staff and Board of Trustees. In late July, TKI broke ground on a new affordable housing development, Maplewood Villas. This will be a 44 unit development which will serve those 55+. Eleven of those units will be set aside to serve homeless veterans and should be completed prior to the end of 2023.

TKI is committed to a community without homelessness. It takes a large team to accomplish this, both employed and volunteer and TKI is blessed and lucky to have such dedicated and caring staff.