Our Story

What is 18 Reasons?

18 Reasons is a nonprofit community cooking school on a mission to empower our community with the confidence and creativity needed to buy, cook, and eat good food every day.

18 Reasons offers three food education programs. At our 18th Street Kitchen in San Francisco, we host paid cooking classes with chefs from around the world, and ticket sales help support our free programming for low-income families. Through our free Cooking Matters and Nourishing Pregnancy programs for low-income families, we offer grocery donations, cooking and nutrition classes, and peer support. Our vision is to create equity and belonging through the transformative and healing power of home cooking.

Through our three programs, we serve a diverse range of Bay Area residents connected by a passion for good food and home cooking. We are a nonprofit, and rely on a mix of donations, grants, and 18th Street Kitchen ticket sales and Private Parties to keep our programs running.

What makes our approach unique?

We are the only organization in San Francisco that offers free, hands-on cooking classes and grocery donations to low-income adults, families, and kids. Our program is evidence-based and proven to help our participants make long-lasting healthy changes and improve their food security. Cooking Matters and Nourishing Pregnancy classes are facilitated by peer health educators, who are community members 18 Reasons trains and employs to teach in their own neighborhoods and languages, and by volunteers passionate about sharing their love of healthy home cooking. This makes our community programming linguistically and culturally appropriate for our participants.

Our history

18 Reasons grew out of the Bi-Rite Family of Businesses' desire to create a space where community members could deepen their relationships with food and with each other. In 2008 in a small space on Guerrero Street, our first tasting classes and community dinners sought to connect neighbors with the farmers and producers who sold their products at Bi-Rite. 18 Reasons quickly took on a life of its own, expanding to hands-on classes and monthly Community Dinners, and relocating to our current 18th Street Kitchen location.

Meanwhile, Sarah Nelson launched the nonprofit Three Squares in 2011 to bring free Cooking Matters cooking and nutrition classes to low-income communities throughout the Bay Area. Sarah worked with Bi­-Rite and 18 Reasons to launch San Francisco's first Food & Farm Film Fest in 2013. Bi-Rite Family of Businesses' founding partner, Sam Mogannam, and Sarah liked collaborating so much that they decided to join forces and merge Three Squares into 18 Reasons later that spring.

Today, 18 Reasons offers classes and dinners on a nightly basis in our 18th Street Kitchen, and offers free Cooking Matters classes to over 3,500 low-income Bay Area adults, teens, and kids every year. We believe in the transformative and healing power of home cooking, and all our programs reflect this belief. While we were co-founded by Bi-Rite's founding partner, we are now an independent nonprofit organization governed by a Board of Directors. Sam is still on our Board, and we consider ourselves part of the Bi-Rite family.

Why are we called 18 Reasons?

If you’ve been in the Mission for a while, you may remember the large sign atop a building at the corner of 17th Street and Mission that bore the simple and mysterious message, "17 Reasons." It was unfortunately taken down in 2002 and replaced by an ordinary billboard. To mark the change in the neighborhood and pay tribute to this much ­missed icon, we decided to christen the space 18 Reasons. Eighteen because our home is 18th Street and because…well, it never hurts to have one more reason.

Take a look at this video about the original sign!

from Mission Local on Vimeo.

Our nonprofit tax ID number is 45-3059509
18 Reasons is a proud member of the Bi-Rite Market family