FoodChain is growing! And not just the food from our Aquaponics Farm. We are expanding our current space by remodeling the empty bay next to our farm! Soon this space will be transformed into a fully certified Teaching and Processing Kitchen!

This video explains how all this fits together:

Our new kitchen will host afterschool cooking classes for youth, knife skills training, nutrition education, and family meal preparation workshops for low income families and individuals. We will have SNAP geared programs, teaching meal assembly using the fresh, local ingredients from our kitchen, provided through our partnership with GleanKY. Together we can access the seconds (imperfect produce) from many small farmers and process them so that they are much more user friendly (i.e. turning a whole pumpkin into pumpkin puree or packaged pumpkin soup). By purchasing these products, at a reduced cost, we will financially benefit the farmers of the area while increasing our neighborhood residents’ ability to purchase affordable fresh or lightly processed produce from this region.

This kitchen will be celebrating the people and history of this community through food. Members of the community will be invited to share their cooking knowledge and skills with others through group potlucks, cooking meals together, and leading or attending cooking classes led by fellow neighbors and kitchen staff. Residents will have an increased acceptance of diversity among their neighbors, as well increased trust and sense of reliability, returning to viewing neighbors as friends instead of strangers. In this space, children, teens, parents, and elders will have a welcoming and safe place to gather, share knowledge, skills, and experiences, and increase the resiliency of Lexington’s north side.

Our Kitchen will be a job creator. The kitchen will offer a wide range of classes in order to meet the needs and interests of our diverse community. One part of this is to develop a free-of-charge educational program that will serve as a prerequisite for available jobs in the processing kitchen. With this training, residents with or without prior food processing experience or other trade experience will have the opportunity to learn and develop new job skills that can be applied to various cooking professions within the processing kitchen and/or neighborhood store as well as other commercial restaurants and/or grocery kitchens. The Kitchen will provide hands-on training, living wage employment, and essential resources for anyone wanting to work in the food system.

FoodChain is located in a food desert. This means that our Kitchen will be essential to many of the residents’ ability to access fresh and whole foods, especially those that have limited mobility and access to reliable transportation. After our Kitchen is complete, FoodChain will begin work on a Neighborhood Green Grocery. This Grocery will have fresh whole and cut produce, prepared in the Kitchen, as well as household basics, dry goods, meat and dairy, as well as SNAP friendly healthy ready-to-eat options for folks running off to school or work. This grocery will provide true cost of living wage jobs to area residents, and provide a free gathering space with cafe seating for people to have open dialogues and a safe and welcoming space for friendly exchanges.

FoodChain is dedicated to ensuring that as we move forward with these projects we are being sensitive and conscientious of the needs and desires of all of our neighbors. We partnered with Tweens Coalition, who coordinated focus groups representing the wide diversity of our neighbors, creating a document compiling all their hopes and opinions for the kitchen and grocery development. We host monthly community meals called “Chat n Chow,” bringing our neighbors together and providing a space for them to gather in fellowship as well as speak up and be heard about the work FoodChain is doing. Through these events we are creating a Neighborhood Advisory Committee so that this project grows with community support and input and becomes a space that is comfortable and welcoming to everyone.