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Posts tagged ‘food policy task force’

Happy Anniversary to SLC’s Square Kitchen!

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

Can you believe it? It’s been over a year since Salt Lake City’s Square Kitchen opened. This labor of love took 8 years to fully realize and was one of our Department’s core Local Food access programs.

In that time, Square Kitchen’s Analia Valdemoros and Tham Soekotjo have truly taken the idea of an “incubator kitchen” from a dream to a thrilling reality while maintaining a strong focus on client support, flexibility, and creativity.

We met with Ana and Tham at the Square Kitchen facility on 751 West and 800 South to learn more about their first year of operation and take a peek at some of the local food businesses that got their start at the unique incubator space.

Square Kitchen
751 W. 800 S.
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Thank you Jen Colby for your Service on the Food Policy Task Force!

We’re excited to highlight the work of Food Policy Task Force member Jen Colby for this edition of SLCgreen Connections. This photo is from her time completing an Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She returns regularly to visit the farm and gardens.

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

For this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jen Colby, who was a volunteer on our Food Policy Task Force (FPTF) for over 10 years and just concluded her term. She also served as co-chair for the group from 2017-2018. She also helped establish the Office of Sustainability at the University of Utah. Jen has worked to address issues ranging from food systems and campus gardens to air quality and climate change– she is truly a persevering agent for change!

What is the Food Policy Task Force?

The Food Policy Task Force (FPTF) is a group of individuals from diverse sectors of the local food system. They are constantly on the look-out for how Salt Lake City can catalyze opportunities to create an accessible, sustainable, low carbon, and equitable food system that provides healthy and culturally appropriate food for the community. In particular, the Task Force members advocate for policies and programs that support and protect urban agriculture, increase access to fresh, local produce, eliminate food waste, and drive community and economic activity within the local food system.

Jen has witnessed many positive changes over her decade of service on the Food Policy Task Force and has been a leader in bringing many of them to fruition. We wanted to take this opportunity to hear her reflections on the state of our local food system, and to thank her for all she does to contribute to a more sustainable community!

Volunteering with several University of Utah students at Sandhill Farms in Eden, Utah.

In addition to her work on local food, Jen just completed her graduate studies with honors (congratulations!) at the University of Utah’s Master of Public Administration Program, as well as the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability. She volunteers with Slow Food Utah and is a member of the board of the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS). Finally, her volunteer work extends to her local community council, where she is on the executive committee for the East Central Community Council. Whew!

Here is our interview:

What drives your commitment to your community?

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Utahns Against Hunger Strives for a More Sustainable Food System

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

By Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern

Hunger. It is desperate and overpowering. Everyone has experienced it, but for some, it is extreme and long-term. Weeks go by with a deep, gnawing sensation inside, a pain so fierce that it almost feels alive.

This is a reality for more than 1 in 9 Utahns.

Food insecurity occurs when people cannot afford to buy enough food. It has significant impacts on productivity, happiness, and health, and because it impacts low-income families and individuals, it is often accompanied by threats to other basic needs such as shelter and clothing.

UAH screenshot

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The Square Kitchen Opens Today!

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 . . . It’s a project 8 years in the making.

Food. It does more than just nourish our bodies. It’s a vehicle for transmitting culture and building community. It sustains families and farmers. It employs a huge workforce.

Food is integral to our economy, our environment, and our families. That’s one reason why SLCgreen has a food policy program which aims to increase the amount of local food grown, sold, and purchased in Salt Lake City.

Today we are thrilled to celebrate a huge milestone for a project we’ve been working on since 2010—the opening of a culinary incubator kitchen.

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Salt Lake City Announces Awardee, Location of the New Culinary Incubator Kitchen Project

Incubator-Kitchen-SquareSalt Lake City is pleased to announce that Square Kitchen has been awarded a competitive $350,000 grant to develop a culinary incubator kitchen in the Poplar Grove neighborhood. The new Square Kitchen will provide accessible and affordable commercial kitchen space to budding food entrepreneurs, in addition to regulatory, marketing and business resources.

“There is high demand for local and organic food options in Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Ralph Becker. “Square Kitchen will help to build and diversify our local food economy by removing the barriers that are preventing new companies from starting in the food sector – specifically the lack of commercial kitchen space and accessible business resources.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Becker and the Salt Lake City Council approved $600,000 to support the development of a Culinary Incubator Kitchen in Salt Lake City. $350,000 was available through a competitive grant process, while the additional $250,000 was made available through a loan. Proposals were submitted last summer to create and operate a culinary incubator kitchen.

The selection of Square Kitchen is another important step forward for a project that began over two years ago. In 2013, Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Task Force, in partnership with the Sustainability Division, worked with Carbaugh & Associates to conduct the Culinary Incubator Kitchen Feasibility Study (PDF). This study identified a strong demand for an incubator kitchen, while outlining the key components needed to create a successful project for the Salt Lake City community.

Square Kitchen, LLC was established in March 2015 by Analia Valdemoros, MCMP and Tham Soekotjo with the mission of building a culinary kitchen incubator facility accessible to all community members. Together, Valdemoros and Soekotjo have over 16 years of diverse experience as urban planners, entrepreneurs and local food business owners.

“Square Kitchen is thrilled to work with Salt Lake City in providing new and experienced food entrepreneurs with an affordable state-of-the art kitchen facility, sizable storage space, training opportunities to grow their food business, and most importantly, a gathering place to cultivate and increase food diversity in our city,” said Valdemoros and Soekotjo.

Square Kitchen is finalizing site plans and will break ground on the new facility in early spring 2016. The new kitchen plans to open its doors for business in July 2016.

For more information and to follow the progress of the Culinary Incubator Project, please visit www.SLCgreen.com.