Search

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

The Wilmington Kitchen Collective unites the faith and business communities in support of food entrepreneurs.


Laura Semmelroth, Wilmington Alliance Director of Creative Placemaking, laura@wilmingtonalliance.org

Chelsea Spyres, Riverfront Ministries Pastor & Executive Director, chelsea@gracechurchum.org

We may never know precisely how much the pandemic has cost us: in lives lost, mental and emotional anguish, faith tested, and the complete upheaval of our economic well-being. Recovery is underway, thankfully, but the rebuilding effort must be purposeful and pointed. The American way of life, our previous “normal,” was flawed and deeply problematic for communities of color and other marginalized communities. To rebuild our society in a more holistic and equitable way requires creative thinking, and forging new alliances to amplify the resources available in complementary sectors of society.


The Wilmington Kitchen Collective is one such venture.


The Collective is a community-based project dedicated to serving food industry entrepreneurs from marginalized local communities. Our mission is to empower holistic transformation by providing affordable, high-quality commercial kitchen facilities in an effort to support entrepreneurs in creating successful businesses and usher in human flourishing.


To accomplish this mission, we’ve begun building a tasty stone soup through a network of powerful partners with specific ingredients to contribute. Wilmington Alliance partners with community and civic leaders to prioritize the City’s highest needs, and will lead the entrepreneurial support efforts. Riverfront Ministries, a new faith community and faith-based non-profit, is committed to the work of justice through worship, small groups, community engagement, and investing in our city. Grace Church at 9th and Washington has the space to make this vision possible.


Through our partnerships with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Small Business Development Center at the University of Delaware, we are able to provide a “soup-to-nuts” opportunity for our first cohort of entrepreneurs. These small food-based businesses will be guided through all needed certifications to operate within state guidelines safely and effectively, and further develop their business plans with an eye on growth and sustainability.


Wilmington Alliance is removing the financial barrier of these certifications by covering the initial costs of licensures and permits through the National League of Cities’ grant. Additional financial support for construction, operations, and entrepreneurial support is provided by Corteva, Delaware Community Foundation, the New Castle Presbytery, and the Peninsula-Delaware United Methodist Conference, a uniting of resources within the business and faith communities.


Though the nation’s shutdown has threatened the future livelihood of many small businesses, the Kitchen Collective is allowing these entrepreneurs to pivot and plan for their long-term growth. Live cultural events and professional conferences are just beginning to be rescheduled, so members of our cohort have turned their focus to building their online presence and fielding orders via social media, thanks to our partnership with UD Lerner School of Business whose students built websites, integrated online ordering and even helped establish social media accounts for the Kitchen Collective and our entrepreneurs. Interested hungry patrons can contact these entrepreneurs directly through our website to place orders for everything from homemade baked goods to BBQ sauce and catering services.


Perhaps most importantly, we have begun construction on a low-cost, high-quality commercial kitchen facility that will allow these entrepreneurs to grow their business and provide high quality food to the City. Grand opening of the commercial kitchen is being planned for this August, removing a large barrier to economic growth and business sustainability.


The Collective is part of the local food system growing at Grace Church, alongside weekly food distribution, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from the Food Bank, and urban gardens such as those planted by Serviam Girls Academy and the Alliance. The long-term vision includes a weekly vendor market, new café, and monthly community meals, all housed at Grace Church.


Chef Angell Morris, the owner of Signatures Mobile Cuisine and Signatures by Angell Catering, will serve as our Kitchen Manager. She understands well the challenges of operating and expanding a business without access to first-class facilities, and we look forward to the insight and skills she can provide to our other business owners along this journey.


From the beginning, the Kitchen Collective has been an effort of many organizations coming together in creative benevolence, and the doors are open for more like-minded organizations to join the team. We want to see Wilmington reemerge from the dark days of the pandemic in a renewed spirit, determined to thrive, with full understanding that together we are stronger. We look forward to welcoming you as our neighbors to a meal at our community table, a customer in our vendor market, or an entrepreneur in our kitchen.


Follow The Collective on Instagram at @wilmingtonkitchencollective

and bookmark our website (www.wilmingtonkitchencollective.com)

for further announcements on the kitchen’s Grand Opening Celebration.

76 views0 comments