Can a co-operative kitchen survive during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Want to make a career in food? Don’t open a restaurant, the conventional wisdom goes, because they have some the highest failure rates in any industry. (And that was before the pandemic.) Get into foodservice, instead—the technical name for the meals served at institutions like schools, hospitals, cafeterias, and social service agencies—and there’s a chance you can work consistently. Next City takes a close look at ChiFresh Kitchen, a new co-operative commercial kitchen owned and operated by formerly incarcerated Black women, who are targeting nursing homes and schools as potential contracts they’d like to secure. As the founders explain, the big idea was to find jobs for other people like them, women who face a 46 percent unemployment rate, promote the worker-owned, small-business model, and break up big food-service contracts that prevent smaller operations like theirs from being players in the institutional food-service market. Food, oddly, was a logical choice. It was either that, they said, or laundry, or last-mile deliveries.