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Some of the Piperno family’s first charitable projects, even before the Domenica Foundation began, involved food donations. Elena Piperno, the foundation’s director, remembers assembling and delivering food baskets for Christmas distribution at Sacred Heart parish when she was only 6 years old. That tradition continues to this day.

In addition to giving food directly, we fight hunger in Camden and South Jersey by supporting partners that provide food but also address food insecurity in more systemic ways.

  • Cathedral Kitchen serves hot meals every day and offers culinary arts and baking training programs to set low-income adults on a viable career path.
  • Virtua Health’s mobile grocery store offers healthy food choices at below-market prices in “food deserts” in Camden and Burlington counties.
  • The Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Center distributes food each month to some 250 families, of whom nearly half are senior citizens.
We don’t stop with funding. Until the pandemic hit, Pepe Piperno and his wife Peggy volunteered once a week to prepare and serve meals. At our annual Spring into Action event, we introduce new volunteers to CK’s meal program—some of whom become regulars.
Peggy Piperno, former Executive Chef Jonathan Jernigan, Pepe Piperno, and Elena Piperno at Cathedral Kitchen
Domenica Foundation’s annual Spring into Action event brings volunteers to Cathedral Kitchen’s meal program.

A Bright Future in Culinary Arts!


Stephany Espinal

Stephany Espinal, a single mom working for a cleaning service, needed new skills to put her on a career path with opportunities for advancements.

Fortunately, Stephany found Cathedral Kitchen’s (CK’s) culinary arts training program. This 17-week program teaches adults everything they need to get started in the food service industry. Part of the general operating support the Domenica Foundation gives to CK every year supports this job opportunity program. Stephany, a star pupil, was assigned to do her internship at Hearthside, a premier restaurant in Collingswood, NJ. It’s no coincidence that Hearthside is run  by Dominic Piperno, son of Domenica Foundation founder Pepe Piperno and brother of Elena, the executive director. Stephanie has been working in the Hearthside kitchen ever since.

“Stephany was such a hard worker and quick learner during her internship at Hearthside that we wanted to keep her on after graduation,” said Dominic. “She’s a real asset in our kitchen, and she has really helped our pastry program.”

“It’s been a tough road, but I have managed to conquer,” said Stephany. “I started as a prep cook [at Hearthside], but now I’m the one behind the delicious gelatos and all the desserts. One day I will have my own bakery/coffee shop.”

Culinary arts training is only the latest CK program to benefit from Domenica Foundation support. For decades, the Domenica Foundation has helped to fund CK’s meal program, which serves more than 100,000 hot meals to needy adults and children every year. 

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