The Food Flow Kitchen offers a solution to the need for access to commercial processing for community agencies. The facility will be able to process bulk purchases and donations from farmers, food bank distributors, etc. The project will also create high quality jobs, provide workplace training and engage marginalized groups in workplace opportunities.

Our developing social enterprise kitchen is in good company; there are some excellent models and ideas out there, and innovations in our own communities that we can build on. From DC Central Kitchen to the LOFT Kitchen at Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre to Parkdale’s community cannery at the West End Food Co-op and the Co-op Cred program, the possibilities are plentiful.

Models range from training and work placement programs such as the Learning Enrichment Foundation to incubator programs for businesses. La Cocina in San Francisco has developed a model specifically for women of colour who face economic barriers to starting businesses. The link between social enterprise and food provision has gained traction in Canada and the U.S. Many of the social enterprises in the Toronto area focus on food.

DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), founded in 1989, has a mission to focus on finding innovative solutions to poverty, hunger and poor health. DCCK is a charitable organization in Washington D.C. funded through charitable donations and grants. DCCK is also unique in that over 50% of its income is generated through its social enterprise. DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) facilitates healthy food distribution to partner agencies that offer service delivery (beyond feeding) for low income, high risk populations. DCCK also facilitates job training to unemployed men and women who have lived experience of homelessness, addiction, and incarceration.

In New York State, Foodlink has evolved from a food recovery organization that drew product from manufacturers who had an abundance of a particular product. The organization acts as an emergency food provider to a network of 450 agencies. Foodlink added processing to their programs in order to create jobs as well as increase their capacity to offer food. They run various meal programs for kids, including Kids’ Cafes for after-school that reaches 3000 children through 58 cafes, the Backpack program for weekend food for kids, and the Summer Meals program for food outside the school term.

See some interesting work around the food hub concept at Food Secure Canada’s Working Group website.

(Photo: West End Food Co-op)