A group of us went on a tour of Kitchen 66 in Tulsa Oklahoma on Monday. We learned a lot about how they operated the community kitchen there. Not everyone that could have benefited from the tour could make the trip with us but we are going to have a meeting in January to discuss what we learned and to begin the next step of creating an entity that will move us in the direction of making this project a reality for the McAlester area. Some of the things we will be discussing is what kind of entity we need to create, either a non-profit or a for-profit company, board members and a manager that can begin the process of finding funding, a building that will work for a community kitchen and finding equipment.
The city of McAlester has shown a great deal of interest in having a community kitchen where entrepreneurs that want to start a cooking business can get help starting their business. We believe that these entrepreneurs will benefit from an organization that can help them establish a legal food business that is registered with the Oklahoma State Secretary, Sales Tax Permit, and Food manufacturing license, and liability insurance; test and validate product concept, labeling, and develop brand identity. One vital aspect would to be helping these entrepreneurs with sales opportunities through the kitchen and throughout the community like the Pittsburg County Farmers Market, Main Street events, and stores in the surrounding area. The community kitchen would also have its own website and social media platforms that would help promote the entrepreneurs while there and help them establish their own online platforms that they can use to promote their business.
The plan is to provide a resource that local entrepreneurs can use that will give them a jump start in creating a sustainable business. The kitchen would also be utilized by others to give cooking and canning classes. These classes would be offered to whomever in the community wants to take them. The classes would help teach how to prepare healthy meals in the home that are simple and inexpensive.
There are many resources that most Oklahoman’s are not aware of like ONIE Project, OSU Extension fact sheets and their CNEP program. There are also resources like the Made In Oklahoma Project and Oklahoma Agritourism that can help people find locally grown and produced foods. We want these resources to be better known and used by the community so that we have a strong healthy community.
A lot of effort is going into this particular project because we have seen a need for a community kitchen in the McAlester area. The more support we have that is willing to participate in helping this project become a reality the faster we can work to have a vital resource like this in McAlester. Come join some of our meetings! The more people who are willing to join in the discussion and lend their help the better this community project will be able to meet the needs of the community as a whole. So come join us.