Local food entrepreneurs and Madison community members now have the option to rent kitchen space on Madison’s north side at Food Enterprise and Economic Development as part of an effort to support local food-related employment.
Adam Haen, kitchen manager of FEED, said the company launched its first Madison kitchen in November.
FEED started off as a way to support local food entrepreneurs who have little to no access to a commercial kitchen, Haen said. The program offers a way to rent a space for just the time needed with a promise that clients will not have their scheduled time bumped.
According to FEED’s website, the facility also offers a shared office with computers and printers, a conference room and cold, dry and frozen storage spaces.
Haen said customers just pay for what they rent without added expenses.
“Any food service is tough to start and tough to maintain,” Haen said. “Part of that is just the initial output of money.”
Haen said the company’s main mission is to support food-related employment in order to benefit Madison’s local businesses. He said everything the customers are doing is sourced within 100 miles of Madison.
FEED also offers cooking classes for people to gain cooking skills and is open to hosting food-based events where clients can sell their products to the public, Haen said.
Karen Bassler, FEED executive director, said they looked to Madison to get funding support for their initial startup.
“We were helped greatly because the City of Madison gave us a grant and we were able to secure some other foundation funding,” Bassler said.
One of the foundations was Forward Community Investments, a local lender that funds nonprofit organizations and cooperatives.
FEED was also able to gain money from approximately 400 independent donors, Bassler said. The company accepted any donations that were offered, amounts ranging from five dollars to $10,000 and she said a lot of financial support from the Madison area suggests that people think FEED will be an asset to the community.
Bassler and Haen said they have just started a program with The River Food Pantry, which seeks to train the unemployed or people recently released from prison. Bassler said the training program helps people who are down on their luck gain a skill set.
Bassler said they teach them how to bake bread, rolls and other bakery items. She said another bonus the program offers is the ability for people to gain their sanitation certificate, an asset that is highly influential in the employment process.
Bassler said FEED hopes to add more programs like this in the future because creating more opportunities for Madison citizens will be beneficial to the whole community.
While FEED supports community enrichment programs, Bassler said it still is able to fulfill its original mission of serving local food entrepreneurs.
Haen said some clients are creating hot sauces, condiments and chocolates, and many of these individuals are marketing their products to local businesses and restaurants.
When summer approaches, the FEED managers said they anticipate food carts and caterers to begin working out of their space as well.