Saturday, February 28, 2015

State Teams up with Foundation to Promote Community Kitchens in Smaller Communities in New Mexico

Volunteer Center of Grant County operates kitchen in Silver City
What do the  Taos County Economic Development Center, Community Pantry in Gallup, Volunteer Center of Grant County and Northern New Mexico and Food Hub in Española have in common? They each recently received a $10,500 grant to support their community commercial kitchens from the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD).  Press Release

These kitchens were chosen for grants because they are currently operational or will be in the next 60 days.

"The agriculture and food production industries have been a significant part of our state economy for many generations and we are pleased to continue that heritage with our investment in commercial kitchens in rural communities throughout New Mexico," said Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela. "The commercial kitchen initiative helps local farmers, artisan bakers and the like create jobs and bring about a sense of community and pride while growing the tax base."

The NMEDD is also providing technical assistance to five other rural communities in New Mexico to eventually develop commercial kitchens. These communities are Anton Chico,Las Vegas, Raton L os Pueblos in Ribera, and El Morro Valley Cooperative

Attempting to Replicate Successful Project in Albuquerque
The program involves a partnership with the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation (RGCDC) to replicate an already very successful commercial kitchen in Albuquerque's South Valley, known as the Mixing Bowl Community Kitchen Program. The goal is to build a network of community kitchens statewide."This initiative, known as La Cocina, will take the Mixing Bowl model statewide to support New Mexico's family entrepreneurs," said the NMEDD. "By providing a system that supports the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of commun ity members all across the New Mexico, the state has an opportunity to promote one of New Mexico's most unique assets - our food - to both support small businesses and build an export system that will create economic - base jobs."

"If funded, the La Cocina Initiative will help a dozen existing rural New Mexico communities build out food entrepreneur programs based on the successful Mixing Bowl model in underutilized commercial kitchens like those in community center, schools, and churches," Sarah Wentzel-Fischer wrote in  an article entitled " Cooking up Economic Development for Rural NM," published in "Edible magazine in December.
Commons Center to host Silver City community kitchen
Silver City Kitchen
The Nuevos Comienzos Community Kitchen in Silver City will be operated out of the Commons Center for Food Security and Sustainability at 13th and Corbin in Silver City.. "We really appreciate the Economic Development Department giving us this opportunity, and we're thrilled to get it," said Alicia Edwards, executive director of the Volunteer Center..

The kitchen serves as a small business incubator for local entrepreneurs interested in getting into a food-related business."Basically, the goal is to end hunger and poverty in Grant County, and we do that a bunch of different ways," Edwards told The Silver City Sun-News.  "One of those ways is to use the community kitchen for economic development.".

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