By Ryan Russell
Stafford County leaders have been working to finalize details in opening a commercial kitchen at the Stafford County Annex in St. John.
While some of the initial construction has yet to be completed, the county commission has generously given to help get the kitchen going. In addition, Stafford County Economic Development Inc. was awarded a grant by South Central Community Foundation to hold Youth Entrepreneur Challenge (YEC) this year with a focus being on value added food creation.
The YEC youth are challenged to create a business concept and compete against each other.
Stafford County Economic Development will offer an entrepreneurship training program in 2024 — that is food related, once the kitchen is completed and licensed.
Additional programming will be in partnership with 4H extension with their youth programs to create commercially viable products. We will also work with 4H extension to create year-round programming.
The idea behind this is that Stafford County has an abundance of raw food materials from the flour mill, produce farmers, a number of small farms producing high-quality meat and dairy products; however, there is a lack of value-added products that are marketable.
Additional funds are needed.
The goal is to raise $10,000 for the operational and programming costs connected to the Commercial Kitchen. This will include the costs of bringing in people with the technical skills and knowledge to help with training in packaging and food processing. We will also be putting in a gas stove and other equipment that may be needed depending on who uses the kitchen.
Here’s how that money can be raised:
Beginning in November, South Central Community Foundation is doing a matching day on Giving Tuesday. They have a pool of $70,000 to use in matching. Each organization has an opportunity to get the funds they’ve raised matched, and an endowment created that will gain interest every year to be used for whatever projects an organization has to fund.
Though Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, individuals can give throughout the month of November. Stafford County Economic Development is participating in South Central Community Foundations month of giving.
So, give generously this November and help Stafford County Economic Development spur economic growth in Stafford County’s nascent food product industry. To donate to support this important program, click on the link. https://www.sccfmatchday.org/nonprofits.cfm?id=1830