We are so excited to welcome Marizel Yuen, our new Incubator Operations Manager!
Marizel will be helping us manage the day-to-day operations in our Food Incubator Program and helping our chefs navigate the food business system. We interviewed Marizel about her background and goals for this position.
Tell us about yourself.
My love for food is deeply rooted in my family's history, tracing back to generations of passionate cooks and farmers in the Philippines. This culinary heritage was a significant part of my childhood, and when my family relocated to Seattle when I was just 10 years old, I found myself yearning for the traditional Filipino dishes that had been a staple in our home.
In our new city, Filipino eateries were few and far between, and this scarcity sparked an idea in my young mind - what if I could open my own restaurant? This thought planted the seed of a dream that would eventually lead me to enroll at the Seattle Culinary Academy, marking the beginning of my journey in the food industry. To fund my tuition, I worked in various restaurants and catering companies, gaining invaluable experience along the way.
In 2013, I took the leap and founded my first food venture - a mobile food truck and meal prep service that prioritized locally sourced produce and healthy ingredients. This venture was a success, and it wasn't long before I expanded my entrepreneurial efforts by establishing a commercial kitchen and food incubator, designed to support and nurture small food businesses in the area.
How did you learn about FIN?
My path led me to the Food Innovation Network, a project I discovered during a visit to a coffee shop in Renton. They were hosting a food pop-up, and my curiosity was instantly piqued. After introducing myself, I was invited to a meeting where I met potential kiosk business owners. As an immigrant myself, I felt a deep connection with these entrepreneurs. We shared the same dreams of business ownership and faced similar challenges along our journeys.
What are your goals for this position?
This new role presents an exciting opportunity for me to connect with, learn from, and better understand the unique needs of these entrepreneurs. My goal is to provide effective support and collaborate with them to establish systems that will enhance their operations. This includes standardizing recipes and implementing inventory management strategies to promote consistency, efficiency, and productivity in their day-to-day operations. I firmly believe that a well-designed roadmap is crucial to achieving both short-term and long-term goals.
We are excited to welcome Sandra Largaespada as our new FIN Program Director!
A bit about Sandra:
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 2018, I decided to move to Seattle for a change of scenery and to be closer to nature. Growing up in a Hispanic household, I was exposed to Nicaraguan and Guatemalan cuisine, which sparked my curiosity and passion for food. I became fascinated by how food is made and its impact on health, which eventually led me to adopt a vegan lifestyle and pursue a food science and nutrition degree. With my education and experience, I have worked in food product development, taught food education workshops, and managed food programs that support multicultural and underserved communities in Western Washington. My passion for food and commitment to making it accessible to all has been a driving force in my career, and I hope to continue making a positive impact in the food industry.
We interviewed Sandra so you can learn more about her.
What's your favorite food/dishes?
I enjoy trying variations of vegan food in different cuisines. My latest cravings are thai curries and Ethiopian food!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Enjoy weightlifting! Going on outdoor adventures with my dog and being around animals, organizing and decluttering my space, and reading books
Squirrels and elephants
How did you hear about FIN & Global to Local?
The food industry is a small world, and many of my previous colleagues and partnerships knew about FIN. So when cool new food system opportunities open up in the region, the word spreads quickly!
What are your hopes and goals for this position?
- Connect with the Chefs to learn more about their cultures, business goals, and where they are in their entrepreneurial journey so that our program can set them up for success.
- Get to know the community! I am excited to attend our events and see firsthand how the FIN program impacts community members and learn where we focus our capacity-building efforts over the next few years.
- I am excited to work with the FIN team and learn about their interests and unique talents. My favorite part about working with a team is embracing that we all bring diverse skills and expertise. My goal is to work together to develop program goals and build alignment with our work and vision while always supporting them through their professional development.
- Build relationships with new and existing partners! Primarily those who are committed to helping increase access to healthy food in South King County. I believe it's important that we expand our relations with groups whose values truly align with our commitment to developing positive food systems change.
We wish Sandra a great experience as our Program Director, and we hope you will meet her soon during our upcoming events!
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
KIRO 7 News just spotlighted the wonderful Food Business Incubator participants who launched our no-cost meals program!
When Lilian Ryland and her fellow chefs saw neighbors in need of healthy food at the start of the pandemic, they got to work in the kitchen. Since March, they have shared their time and talents to prepare more than 8,000 delicious meals for isolated seniors and families.
We’re grateful to everyone who's joined this effort to provide meals and connection to our community—and there are many people to thank!
Our chefs and meal packers have included Naija Buka owner Lilian Ryland; Mamá Tila owner Ofelia Anorve; Monique’s Hot Kitchen owner Monica Wachira; Seatango owners Monica Di Bartolomeo and Ariel Firpo; Soozveen Mediterranean Catering owners Sheelan and Zozan Shamdeen; Theary Cambodian Foods owner Theary Ngeth; WUHA Ethiopian-American Cuisine owner Liyu Yirdaw; Moyo Kitchen owners Mwana Moyo and Batulo Nuh; Wengay’s Kitchen owner Krizia Cherece; Jazze’s owner Nasrin Noori; Chef Jalissa Culinary Co. owner Jalissa Horton; FIN Steering Committee members Ehler Win and Anna Kitchin; and Global to Local staff members who went above and beyond to support this program.
Amazing partners and contributors
Our partners at IRC's New Roots program contributed fresh produce that's delivered to seniors along with the meals.
Meals have been distributed by partners including Catholic Community Services; the City of SeaTac Senior Program; Somali Youth & Family Club; Congolese Integration Network; Somali Health Board; and Living Well Kent.
The program has been supported by funding from the American Heart Association, the CARES Act, and dozens of community members who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. We also received generous in-kind donations from Tilth Alliance; Project Feast; Macrina Bakery; Des Moines Area Food Bank; Food Lifeline; The Storehouse Covington Food Bank; Cheri Mayer; Kerrie Carbary; and caring neighbors.
Feeling inspired? Join us!
Consider contributing to our capital campaign for Spice Bridge, the commercial kitchen and food hall that makes all of our work possible. With your support, Spice Bridge will continue to be a place where we meet food access needs, celebrate diverse cultures, and help talented chefs turn their business dreams into reality.
Happy summer! Here's a hot tip: Our Taste Around the Globe booth featuring FIN food businesses is now at the Auburn Farmers Market. That means we're at six farmers markets this season! Here’s where you can find our booth in July:
Renton Farmers Market
3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays
- July 2: East and West Catering
- July 9: Taste of Congo
- July 16: Taste of Congo
- July 23: Taste of Congo
- July 30: Taste of Congo
Tukwila Village Farmers Market
4-7 p.m. on Wednesdays
- July 3: Monique's Hot Kitchen
- July 10: Boujee Food & Things
- July 17: East and West Catering
- July 24: Monique's Hot Kitchen
- July 31: Monique's Hot Kitchen
Burien Farmers Market
11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursdays
- July 11: Mamá Tila Catering
- July 18: Boujee Food & Things
- July 25: Mamá Tila Catering
Pike Place MarketFront
11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
- July 5: East and West Catering
- July 6: Boujee Food & Things
- July 7: Mamá Tila Catering
- July 12: East and West Catering
- July 13: Boujee Food & Things
- July 14: Mamá Tila Catering
- July 19: East and West Catering
- July 20: East and West Catering
- July 21: Mamá Tila Catering
- July 28: Mamá Tila Catering
Federal Way Farmers Market
9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays
- July 6: Taste of Congo
- July 13: Taste of Congo
- July 20: Taste of Congo
- July 27: TBD
Auburn Farmers Market
10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays
- July 14: Boujee Food & Things
- July 21: Monique's Hot Kitchen
- July 28: East and West Catering
Our Taste Around the Globe booth featuring FIN food businesses had a delicious debut at Pike Place MarketFront in April, and this month we're excited to get started at two more farmers markets! Here's where you can find our booth in May: Burien Farmers Market 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Thursdays
- May 9: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 16: East and West Catering
- May 23: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 30: Taste of Congo
- May 4: Taste of Congo
- May 11: Monique's Hot Kitchen
- May 18: Taste of Congo
- May 25: Taste of Congo
- May 3: East and West Catering
- May 4: Boujee Food & Things
- May 5: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 10: East and West Catering
- May 11: Boujee Food & Things
- May 12: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 17: East and West Catering
- May 18: East and West Catering
- May 19: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 24: East and West Catering
- May 25: East and West Catering
- May 26: Mamá Tila Catering
- May 31: East and West Catering
Pop-upsIn addition to vending at farmers markets, two FIN food businesses will have pop-up dinners at Ubuntu Street Café (202 W. Gowe St. in Kent) in May:
- East and West Catering has a dinner-to-go pop-up from 5-10 p.m. on May 1.
- Boujee Food & Things has dinner-to-go pop-ups from 5:30-9 p.m on May 2, 3, and 9. Find them on Uber Eats if you’re looking for delivery.
We’re thrilled to announce that three new food businesses have joined our Incubator:
- Boujee Food & Things serves up comfort food, re-imagined. Check out their catering menu, visit their website, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
- Monique’s Hot Kitchen offers authentic Kenyan cuisine made with natural ingredients. Give their catering menu a look, and follow them on Facebook.
- East and West Catering brings fresh flavors from East and West Africa. Their catering menu is coming soon; in the meantime, visit their website to learn about their offerings.
Tasty events in AprilMeet the owners of the new businesses -- and other talented FIN entrepreneurs – at exciting events coming up this month:
- Wednesday, April 10: East and West Catering will begin holding dinner-to-go pop-ups from 5-10 p.m. at Ubuntu Street Café (202 W. Gowe St. in Kent). They have more pop-ups scheduled at the same time and location on April 13, 15, 17, 22, 24, and 29. Their April 13 grand opening pop-up will feature complimentary food and in-store dining.
- Friday, April 12: Boujee Food & Things will begin holding dinner-to-go pop-ups from 5:30-9 p.m. at Ubuntu Street Café (202 W. Gowe St. in Kent). They have more pop-ups scheduled at the same time and location on April 16, 18, 19, 25, 26, and 30. Find them on Uber Eats if you’re looking for delivery!
- Saturday, April 13: FIN's Taste Around the Globe booth will make its debut at Pike Place Market featuring Boujee Food & Things! Come get a delicious lunch or snacks between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Find them in the new MarketFront plaza near indi chocolate and Honest Biscuits. Our booth at Pike Place Market will feature rotating FIN food businesses on April 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28.
- Saturday, April 20: Naija Buka will launch their new Mama’s Stew Sauce and Mama’s Jollof Sauce products from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Cheese and Meat Festival. Learn more and get tickets on the event website.
- Saturday, April 27: Mamá Tila will be featured at Project Feast’s Migrating Meals. Learn more and get tickets on the event page.
Use your graphic design or marketing skills to help an emerging entrepreneur launch a new food business! Branding and marketing support is a vital component of FIN’s Food Business Incubator program, which assists entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, and affordable commercial kitchen space. Most program participants are refugees and immigrants with low household incomes. Learn how the Incubator helps participants improve their economic security and build community connections. Responsibilities:
- Meet with an entrepreneur to develop their branding and/or marketing plan.
- Branding volunteer will collaborate with the entrepreneur to design a menu, and potentially a logo and business card.
- Marketing volunteer will establish and develop the business’ presence on web/social platforms. Depending on the marketing plan, this may include Facebook, Instagram, and/or other apps and websites.
- Volunteer will ensure the entrepreneur is able to maintain their web/social presence and update their marketing materials independently.
- Experience in graphic design and/or business marketing is required. Formal training in these skills is preferred.
- Commitment to racial and social justice is required. Experience collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds is preferred.
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!
Please visit our Markets page for current information about Namaste Farm Stand and Tukwila Village Farmers Market!
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.: