Thank you, Kara!
It was truly a bittersweet moment when Kara informed me that she had come to the difficult decision to move on from her role as G2L’s Food Innovation Network (FIN) Program Director. It was bitter because I knew we were going to lose a tremendous leader whose commitment, expertise, and love for the work is unmatched. But, also sweet because it allowed me to reflect on the program’s incredible achievements that Kara helped lead. Over the last nine years, Kara took an idea and vision to expand access and opportunities in the local food economy and turned it into reality. Under Kara’s leadership, our FIN team developed and now manage two critical programs aimed to achieve that vision: Spice Bridge, a Tukwila-based food business incubator supporting aspiring immigrant and refugee-owned food businesses; and the Tukwila Village Farmers Market, a seasonal market featuring fresh, affordable produce grown by immigrant and refugee farmers right here in South King County. There are no words to describe the impact these programs have had for members of the community. We are forever grateful to Kara’s dedication and leadership over the years, and she leaves a lasting legacy of work in the community she loves.
Her transition comes at a pivotal point in our program’s growth. We have been at Spice Bridge now for two years (I know, it’s hard to believe). We opened during the COVID-19 pandemic and endured some very challenging times. That said, we continue to learn and with that comes new and exciting opportunities. We now begin the search for a new program director to lead FIN into its next phase. We have a talented and dedicated team and are looking for a strong leader who shares our commitment to equity and community empowerment. Please distribute the job announcement to your networks. We will be reviewing applicants on a rolling basis to ensure we find the right candidate for our community and for our organization. Please feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly if you have any questions.
Please join me in wishing Kara the very best on her next adventure and celebrating her many accomplishments during her time at G2L.
Message from Kara...
After working nearly 9 years on this remarkable effort, I have made the difficult decision to step away from my role at Global to Local’s Food Innovation Network (FIN) program. While I still have much love and passion for the community and work, it is time for a personal transition and I know someone will keep the momentum going and bring new energy to the amazing work we are all doing together.
It has been incredible to be part of FIN’s journey — from the early community conversations highlighting the need for food access and entrepreneurship opportunities in South King County to starting a single farm stand that has grown into a bustling farmers market to opening the doors of Spice Bridge. I remember a team meeting in the winter of 2020 when we talked about the “many mothers” of Spice Bridge. Little did we know at the time just how necessary this village of mothers would prove to be — from the very onset of the COVID-19 pandemic they have cooked up COVID-19 thousands of meals made with love. It has been an honor to be part of FIN and its work in building an equitable food system with community.
In community, Kara Martin
Join our team! We are looking for someone with restaurant/commercial kitchen management experience to oversee operations at Spice Bridge and provide expert guidance and coaching to the businesses participating in our Incubator Program. Learn more by clicking the link below.
Come buy fresh produce grown by refugees and immigrants in our community every Wednesday, 4-7pm!
Find us at 14350 Tukwila International Blvd, next to the Tukwila Library. We accept SNAP benefits and double them with SNAP Market Match. Starting this year some vendors will accept Senior and WIC vouchers. Customers may also pay with cash, debit, or credit cards.
We follow all public health guidelines to ensure a safe market experience. Please stay home if you’re not feeling well.
New to our market: The farmers market is now a Free Summer Meal site for youth 18 years and under. Meal service time is 4:30-6:30pm. No application or documentation is required. Youth must be present and eat on site. Additional meals will be provided to take home for parents/guardians.
Many know Spice Bridge as home to our Food Business Incubator where people can come and experience food from around the world all while supporting immigrant and refugee chefs in launching their businesses. But did you know about our Community Meals program? Each week, Spice Bridge chefs cook up hundreds of meals that are then delivered to food insecure community members in need. Our Community Meal program is double the impact –culturally-appropriate meals are provided to those in need at no cost and the local food economy is supported by purchasing meals from our start-up BIPOC and immigrant/refugee chefs. Community supporting community.
Thanks to grant funds from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Food Assistance Program and a partnership with Seattle Good Business Network’s Good Food Kitchen Network, Spice Bridge chefs are cooking up to 350 meals each week. Our community partners, such as SHAG and International Rescue Committee (IRC), help ensure meals are delivered directly to the community’s doorstep. SHAG home-delivers the meals to seniors while providing a check-in during a time of isolation. IRC has ensured delivery of halal meals to arriving Afghan refugees in transitional housing—providing the comfort of familiar dishes in a new home.
COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity in our communities. We are committed to improving the emergency food system, empowering the local community, and connecting those in need to multiple resources. Stay tuned for more updates this year as we expand this program, explore more partnerships, and connect with more food insecure individuals in our community.
As challenging as 2021 was, we celebrated many bright spots, such as the one-year anniversary of Spice Bridge, home to our Food Business Incubator program. We marked the occasion by welcoming more than 300 community supporters, partners, and friends to join us in honoring and celebrating the extraordinary program participants. In addition, 2021 also saw our first businesses graduate from the incubator program: Seatango and Naija Buka!
Naija Buka's products can be found online and at PCC Markets, and Seatango has opened a bakery in Lake City.
Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters and sponsors, we were able to close our capital campaign.
Our Tukwila Village Farmers Market also had a fruitful season with increased sales for our growers and improved access for community members. Community members experiencing food insecurity can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market with SNAP/EBT, SNAP Market March, and FIN’s “Heart Bucks.” In 2021, these programs helped community members purchase more than $17,000 of fresh and local produce.
We are determined to continue expanding our programs in 2022, and we are motivated to tackle the issues our communities face with the same grit and perseverance.
Leslee is deeply curious about the ways nature informs, business, leadership, and systems. Having decades of development experience with incubating and scaling businesses, she believes in a post competitive, open-source collaborative future. Leslee is a Mother, artist, and community builder and has held roles of instructor, chef, entrepreneur, and C- level executive. What she loves best, is amplifying the work of small businesses and helping navigate the peaks and valleys of leadership and decision making.
As a PNW food systems expert, she is passionate about economic and social justice, cultivating more circular local economies, rebuilding shared regional inclusive diverse food sheds, and creating accessibility, affordability within human-scaled economies.
"I am so honored to be joining the team at Spice Bridge. I was drawn to this position because it is a confluence of so many things I love. The main reasons being, working in service and support to food businesses and being part of a collective of humans who are committed to food justice.
I believe there has never been a time we have been working to solve so many problems at once, environmentally, economically, and for the health, safety, inclusion and wellness of all our community members. At a time when we feel isolated, the antidote to our fatigue is to find resources in community; the ways to work together, to find those who we can go far with. To collaborate for the highest good. To ask ourselves, what systems can we disrupt? What needs our nurture, and what needs healing? The work requires us to look deeply at ourselves and participate while holding curiosity and willingness to hold change. Food is a great connector, all are deserving of nutrient dense and culturally specific clean foods.
The culture around how we eat and feed our communities, globally and locally is reflective of our social and economic value sets. I have worked in many aspects of food, in potlatch economies, as a farmer, chef, and at home as a single mother feeding 3 kids. I have owned and operated a restaurant, worked as a consultant for startups, incubation spaces, and in micro and large scale distribution. My work and learning has been centered on engaging hard questions around what social and economic diversity and justice looks like locally, especially around re-imagining more equitable and participatory food systems.
As The Market Relations Manager, I look forward to meeting each of you, supporting new opportunities for growth and partnership, emboldening awareness about Spice Bridge, and engaging with the work we will co-create in 2022."Leslee Dixon, FIN Market Relations Manager
After many years of thoughtful planning, working with entrepreneurs and partners, and with a groundswell of support from you, our caring community…We did it! We met our capital campaign goal of $850,000!
Together, we built Spice Bridge, home to our Food Business Incubator program. This community treasure celebrates the rich food traditions of our vibrant, diverse community. Your support will have a lasting impact in helping women of color, immigrant, and refugee chefs access the resources they need to build thriving businesses.
We met our goal because of our community coming together to make this moment happen. Individuals, families, local businesses, community organizations, and foundations came together to build something tremendous together. Gifts of all sizes truly mattered in this campaign, added up they built Spice Bridge where everyone is welcome. Whether you gave $5.00 or $100,000, you helped make this happen, we see how much you care, and we are deeply grateful. Please visit Spice Bridge to see our “Food is Love” appreciation wall!
When we started planning this years ago, we were not in a pandemic. We began working with aspiring entrepreneurs to create a space that was inclusive, provided economic opportunity, and offered community connections. Spice Bridge opened in September 2020 and was ready to meet the changing needs of the food industry to support the Incubator businesses and also address the rising need families and seniors were facing to put culturally relevant meals on the table.
Now, in 2022, we are excited to onboard new businesses into the Food Business Incubator program, support the current cohort as they grow and scale, and expand our community meal program to provide over 250 meals a week along with Tukwila Village Farmers Market. This is ALL possible through Spice Bridge being a reality. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for helping us build our new home! Food is Love!
Kara Martin - Food Innovation Network Program Director
A.J. McClure - Global To Local Executive Director
We are excited to share that we are hiring a Market Relations Manager!
The Market Relations Manager is responsible for cultivating partnerships and development of market and sales channels for businesses in our nonprofit Food Business Incubator. This position manages the development and coordination of off-site sales (outside of Spice Bridge) such as farmers markets, pop-ups, and new satellite vending locations under development and anticipated to open in 2022. We’re looking for someone with food industry and marketing experience to support women of color and immigrant entrepreneurs to start and grow thriving businesses. Please share widely with your networks. Learn more and apply here.
Spice Bridge has opened and thrived in a time of uncertainty due to the warm support from our community. We greatly appreciate your dedication and support in helping make this a community space for aspiring women of color, immigrant, and refugee chefs in their quest for building successful food businesses.
We are so proud of the chefs at Spice Bridge! Their entrepreneurial spirit, determination and hard work has brought in a successful first year during the harshest of times for starting a business.
Please celebrate with us through a month of festivities including weekly:
- Packaged food pop-ups: Stop by Spice Bridge and stock up on spice mixes, sauces, meal kits and snacks from Afella Jollof Catering, Jazze's, Moyo Kitchen, Naija Buka, Taste of Congo, Seatango, Wengay’s Kitchen and WUHA. Wednesday 9/8 12-8pm and every Tuesday, 12-4pm.
- Meet the Chefs: we are hosting a weekly Meet the Chefs live on Facebook where we will take you behind the scenes in our kitchen! Explore little secrets about their dishes, learn about their hobbies and interests, and go on a journey around the world to discover the culinary customs of different food cultures.
(We will be taking questions from the viewers!)
Here is the full lineup and the dates (3pm Live):
~ Thur 9/9 - Theary Cambodian Foods and Afella Jollof Catering
~ Wed 9/15 - Monique’s Hot Kitchen and WUHA
~ Tue 9/21 - Taste of Congo and Wengay’s Kitchen
~ Fri 10/1 - Moyo Kitchen and Jazze’s
- Food themes- our spin of Iron Chef includes highlighting a common dish or ingredient all Spice Bridge vendors cook up. Stop by for a global taste of a common dish!
- Food is Love coloring fun for kids! Download here or stop by for a coloring sheet that we will display on the Spice Bridge walls. Return by 10/1 to enter a raffle contest!
And, then join us Wednesday, October 6, 4-7pm! Event Link https://bit.ly/2XKms8q
We invite you to our anniversary party that will include honoring and celebrating the rich cultural traditions of our community. We hope to see you there!
Spice Bridge chefs have stirred up a lot of interest from news media! Here are some featured stories:
- Spice Bridge offers global flavors that are 'so frickin' good' KNKX Public Radio
- For two women small business owners, Ramadan is a moment to remember home from the South Seattle Emerald
- Seattle’s Spice Bridge Food Hall Links Immigrant Cuisine To Local Community from Forbes
- Congolese chef shares heritage through cooking from KIRO 7 News (video)
- In Seattle, a Taste of Home and a Business Opportunity from Whetstone
- Explore Delicious Global Cuisines at Spice Bridge Food Hall from ParentMap
- Local Food Systems Key to Healthy, Resilient, Equitable Communities from Planning (video)
- Immigrant and refugee chefs make meals for their elderly neighbors from KIRO 7 News (video)
- Spice Bridge food hall brings global cultures & cuisines together in Tukwila from Seattle Refined
- What To Eat At Spice Bridge, A New Food Hall In Tukwila from The Infatuation
- Lumpia, beignets and more: At Tukwila’s Spice Bridge Food Hall, women turn restaurant-owning dreams into reality from the Seattle Times (see a PDF of the print version here)
- Tukwila's global food hall helps women of color, refugees start (& grow) their businesses from Seattle Refined (video)
- Immigrant Cuisine As Cultural Connection At Seattle’s Spice Bridge from Zagat
- This Tukwila food hall supports immigrants' small businesses from KING 5 Evening (video)
- A new global food hall in South King County opens up opportunities for women immigrant and refugee chefs from the International Examiner
- Spice Bridge from Runta News (video)
- Tukwila’s Spice Bridge serves global cuisine cooked by immigrant, refugee women entrepreneurs from KIRO 97.3 (audio)
- New Tukwila food hall opens, featuring global eats from KUOW (audio)
- Spice Bridge: The New Food Hall for Adventurous Eaters from Red Tricycle
- Food hall opens in Tukwila offering cuisine from throughout the world from the South Seattle Emerald
- New Tukwila Food Hall Opens Tuesday, Featuring Immigrant and Refugee Businesses from Seattle Eater