Michel Nischan's foundation has made fresh produce a priority—and his restaurant has quietly done the same for years
Michel Nischan's a well-known guy in food circles, having launched a program through Wholesome Wave Foundation that cuts the price of farmers' markets by 50 percent for people in need.
The organization found—surprise!—that low-income people really want fresh fruits and veggies from local farms but the problem has been affordability and access. The foundation tackles this issue by doubling the value of federal food vouchers, or what used to be known as food stamps. On the back of the success at one farmers' market in Connecticut, they've now expanded the program to more than 30 states and gotten the attention of the White House.
I had heard Nischan talk about this achievement a couple of times, then met up again at the Kneading Conference in Maine. Why was he there? Nischan says he got a wake-up call about whole grains after his son was diagnosed with diabetes and he began researching and changing the family's diet to include more vegetables, fruit, and grains. Then he brought that knowledge into restaurants he ran.
Now, in these talks, Nischan always mentions The Dressing Room, the restaurant that he co-founded with the actor Paul Newman in Westport, Connecticut. He usually refers to it in passing, since it's not the subject of his talks. But I was always curious about it and since we were driving right through the area on a summer vacation I figured, hey, gotta try it.