Incubator program participant Ofelia Anorve brings authentic dishes from across Mexico to the Seattle area. Check out Mamá Tila's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Ofelia. Tell us about your business. My business specializes in traditional Mexican food. How did get the idea for your business? A lot of people would tell me that my food was really good, and I should have my own business. Also, there was a lack of traditional Mexican food in the Seattle area. What makes you different from other catering companies? I take my time when I cook my food, and I do it with love. What do you like best about your work? What I think is best about my work is seeing people enjoy my food. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I think people would be surprised to learn that my food is authentic, fresh, delicious and healthy. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is that if my business is growing fast, I can be under stress since I am running it alone. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? I would say that FIN is really helpful and you learn a lot. Contact Ofelia: (206) 265-9746 or email@example.com
We are thrilled to announce that Namaste Farm Stand has been authorized to accept EBT benefits and Fresh Bucks coupons! People have been asking to use EBT benefits at the farm stand since our grand opening. We knew it was a need; our community survey results showed people would use their EBT benefits at the farm stands, and SeaTac and Tukwila has some of the highest SNAP participation rates in King County. Tukwila has the highest rate among seniors 65 and older – 30 percent use SNAP benefits compared to the countywide average of 12 percent. Starting at our Tukwila location on Aug. 15, and in SeaTac later this month (stay tuned for the exact date), community members will be able to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from the weekly farm stand using their EBT dollars (also known as SNAP, Basic Food or Food Stamps). In addition, EBT cardholders can get a dollar-for-dollar match through the Fresh Bucks program.
The challengeWe began the application process last fall, but had a challenging time moving forward largely due our unique model. We’re not a farmers market. We’re not the farmers. We’re a mobile farm stand operated by a nonprofit that buys wholesale from local growers to then sell directly to the community. This all made it challenging to check of the necessary boxes in the application and submit. However, thanks to the dedication of many partners, we were able to get clear guidance from USDA’s Food Nutrition Services (FNS), the federal agency that manages EBT retailer authorization. We would like to extend a BIG thank you to partners that helped us through the application process. FIN and IRC’s New Roots Program received support from King County Public Health, WSU SNAP-Ed and WA Farmers Market Association.
How Fresh Bucks worksCustomers purchasing fruits and vegetables with their EBT card get matching Fresh Bucks equal in value to the fresh produce purchased ($2-for-$2 in Fresh Bucks). For example, the customer purchases $6 of fresh fruits and vegetables using their EBT card. They then get $6 in Fresh Bucks to spend on produce in another transaction. The Fresh Bucks do not need to be used at that time—they expire at the end of year and can be used at any participating location.
Help us spread the word!We need your support to raise awareness in the community. Please:
- Post and share this flier around the community.
- Distribute these fliers to community members, clients, or program participants.
- Share this Facebook video:
- Create your own Facebook video in other languages. Don’t forget to tag Food Innovation Network.
- Request a presentation by FIN staff or Community Food Advocate to come talk to about this and other food resources in the community. We can come to classes, workshops and community meetings and present in many different languages. If interested, please email Kamal Adhikari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visit Namaste Farm Stand and get some fresh, local fruits and veggies!
Last week, dozens of community members joined us to share food and stories at Community Kitchen Night, a quarterly event we co-present with the City of SeaTac. This time, we took the celebration outdoors for a barbecue at North SeaTac Park. [caption id="attachment_2492" align="alignright" width="300"] Nga Reh made delicious chicken at Community Kitchen Night.[/caption] Here's what Community Food Advocate Nga Reh said about the evening:
"I had such a wonderful time. It was a great idea to make it an outdoor activity, and I liked the way we shared foods from each of our communities. This was my first time serving food. At first, I was afraid that the people wouldn't like the foods I served. I'm glad that they did! And it was great that anyone could join. If I have another chance, I will participate again!"Thanks to everyone who came out for this great gathering! Check out more pictures on Facebook. Then mark your calendars for our next Community Kitchen Night, which will be at SeaTac Community Center on Sept. 26.
We're excited to introduce you to incubator program participant Caroline Musitu! Her new business, Taste of Congo, has been a hit at farmers markets in Renton and Federal Way this summer. Visit her at a farmers market, check out Taste of Congo's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Caroline. Tell us about your business. My business is a catering food service. I cook African food -- Congolese food. I make samosas, rice with vegetables, goat, chicken, salad, French donuts called beignets, and more. What inspired you to start this business? I am from Congo, from Kinshasa, a beautiful city where people like to dance and to eat. There’s lots of parties and celebration. When I was young, my mom used to do catering for weddings, parties, and church; I used to help her make things. But when I came here, my Congolese community would just cook food on their own for events. I said, Why not start a business cooking for them? Special events like weddings happen once in your life, and you have to have food that wows! What makes you different from other catering companies? I have the only Congolese food business in the area! Once people try Congolese food, they’ll know it’s good. It’s very fresh and healthy, too. What do you like best about your work? When my food makes people happy. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I’ve cooked since I was 10 years old. When people visited, I’d go to the kitchen and cook for them. My siblings don’t like to cook, but I love it. My mom showed me how to cook, but I like to invent new recipes; I don’t like to do the same thing, I want to keep it fresh and different. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? I’m learning how the market works, and how to present Congolese food to people who aren’t Congolese. What services or programs have been helpful? Ventures and FIN have helped with the business side: the formal lessons, marketing, calculation, prices. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? FIN are good people to work with; they help us small businesses to get started, grow, and even become big businesses. Contact Caroline: 206.778.5615, email@example.com, Taste of Congo on Facebook
One of the barriers that keep families and individuals from meeting their daily food needs is not knowing about the resources available in the community. To increase awareness throughout the community, FIN held a four-hour workshop in June about how these programs and benefits work, who’s eligible, and how to access them. The 16 workshop participants learned about resources such as SNAP, WIC, food banks and meal programs, School and Summer Meal Programs, Fresh Bucks and Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and community gardens. Now the participants are equipped to help spread the word, and are able to do so in many languages. Here's what FIN Community Food Advocate and Steering Committee Co-Chair Gladis Clemente said about the training:
"I learned that food access is not simply a health issue, but also a community development issue. There are resources out there that can help those who struggle to afford enough food. As an Advocate, I think it's really important to promote these resources and share the facts with everyone, because there are some myths about the requirements to apply for this programs, and nobody should struggle to afford food for their families."Thanks to our partners, WSU Food $ense Program, Within Reach, United Way of King County and Tukwila Pantry, for presenting and sharing this valuable information. And a BIG thanks to the 16 participants who committed the time and energy to doing this important community outreach. If you are interested in having one of workshop participants present at a community event, meeting or class, please contact Kamal Adhikari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re thrilled to announce our community farm stand is returning this season, and has added a second location! We will host Namaste Farm Stand weekly at two locations: Matt Griffin YMCA in SeaTac and the new Tukwila Village Plaza near the Tukwila Library. Last year, FIN and our partner, International Rescue Committee’s New Roots program, hosted a farm stand for 10 weeks at the Matt Griffin YMCA, and the local fresh fruits and vegetables for sale were a hit. This year we’re excited to double the length of our season, now running June through October, and also add the Tukwila location. Namaste Farm Stand will sell fruits and vegetables from local producers including IRC New Roots’s Community Garden (Tukwila), Faith Beyond Farms (Enumclaw), and Collins Family Orchard (Selah). Each week we’ll do a cooking demo showing ways to prepare and cook the variety of produce for sale. We are fortunate to have great partners and funders in making this project happen. FIN and IRC New Roots would like to thank: City of Tukwila, Kona Kai, Communities of Opportunity, Les Dames d’ Escoffier, Matt Griffin YMCA, SHAG, and WSU Extension. Please join us for the Grand Opening at the Tukwila Village Plaza on Wednesday, June 13 from 4-7 p.m. We’ll have fresh produce for sale, as well as kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations, raffles, and live international music. And get your fresh fruits and vegetables from our local growers all season long! We'll operate two farm stands weekly from 4-7 p.m.:
Renton Farmers Market, Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m.
• June 5, 12, 19: Sherehe Kenya Kitchen
• June 26: Taste of Congo
• July 31: Naija Buka
• August 7, 14: Naija Buka
• August 21: Taste of Congo
• August 28: Naija Buka
• September 18: Taste of Congo
Federal Way Farmers Market, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• June 9, 16, 23, 30: Taste of Congo
• July 28: Taste of Congo
• August 4, 11, 18, 25: Taste of Congo
• September 15, 29: Taste of Congo
• October 27: Taste of Congo
Join us for FIN's 3rd Annual Resource Fair
And connect with everything food!
FIN is happy to connect you with a catering business participating in our culinary business incubator program. The businesses we work with each offer a unique menu with dishes cooked from scratch. Mian Dian, Rekebot Coffee House, Soozveen, Swahili Cuisine cook up dishes and flavors from China, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Kenya. They can cater for private or community events, festivals, business lunches, etc. Not sure which business to work with? We can help you figure it out! If you have an event coming up, please fill out this catering request form and a FIN representative will be in touch soon. FIN’s culinary business incubator program works with low-income and immigrant food businesses to transition from the informal economy to a formal business. Catering is an essential component of their start-up business model, and we want to connect these talented entrepreneurs to you… the customer!
SeaTac’s first farm stand This Thursday, 4-6pm at Matt Griffin YMCA. Get local fruits and vegetables.
SeaTac’s first farm stand at the Matt Griffin YMCA. . Come shop for local fruits and vegetables at the farm stand this Thursday, from 4-6pm at the Matt Griffin YMCA. This week we’ll have cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, carrots, rainbow chard, sugar snap peas, salad mix and zucchini! Come on opening day and get a FREE COOKBOOK! What’s cookin’? WSU’s Food $ense will be doing cooking demos—sharing easy, healthy recipes you can use with produce bought from the stands. The Eating Well for Less cookbook features recipes and tips for eating on a budget. Recipes are kid-tested!