In a ward where over one-third of the population lives below the poverty line (the highest poverty rate in DC) and access to full service grocery stores is limited, fresh, affordable produce can be very difficult to come by. Ward 8 has even been declared a "food desert" by the DC Hunger Solutions Grocery Gap Report.
The Fresh Food Factory (FFF) aims to change that. They plan to bring organic, healthy food to the community in many ways, including community gardening, culinary arts, entrepreneurship training, career counseling, a catering service, and more.
Whose Idea Was This?
The project, led by Business Services Manager Amanda Stephenson and Chef Shawn Lightfoot, seeks to support individuals and small businesses in their ventures. The Fresh Food Factory will provide business skills training at their new location, which will also house shipping containers that have been transformed into gardens with food growing both inside and outside. The FFF will also be home to a large commercial kitchen.
What Do They Do?
There will be a farmer's market held at The Fresh Food Factory that will encourage community members to come learn about the food and where it is coming from, as well as get produce at a reasonable price from local farmers. There will also be a hot bar, salad bar, and drink bar at the market that will showcase local businesses and individuals.
In addition, small businesses and individuals will be able to have access to the "kitchen incubator," where they will receive training in cooking, hospitality, entrepreneurship, and career services. These training programs will encourage small businesses to grow and expand, increasing community access to local food.
Some topics a member business might cover as a member of The FFF's Entrepreneur and Career Training program are interview skills, accessing capital, branding and marketing, legal assistance, and human resources, among many others. The 5,200 square-foot, licensed commercial kitchen will also host cooking classes and provide space for small businesses to use.
The catering service run out of The FFF will encourage community organizations to choose local businesses to provide food for their events. This ensures that the food served is fresh and showcases local chefs and small businesses.
Where Is It Located?
The Fresh Food Factory is currently under construction in Anacostia, and plans to open a second location in Baltimore are in the works. However, they've scored partnerships with many local businesses and food trucks. There is also a website that provides information about contacting or visiting The FFF here.
They may just be starting out, but The Fresh Food Factory is already making a big difference in the Ward 8 community by bringing a fresh perspective on food and the drive to help DC residents and businesses establish themselves.
By training businesses to be self-sustaining and providing training and resources to get them started, The FFF is truly helping businesses grow instead of simply giving them what they need. This ensures that the businesses will continue to thrive even when their time with The FFF comes to an end.