Voorhees Public Service Fellows Rutgers UniversityDuring the Fall 2016 semester, Antoinette Gingerelli, Rhiannon Jones, Vanessa Raymond, Esther Rose-Wilen, Patrice Williams examined community food incubation and the potential to create small food businesses in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The study about community food business incubation is a product of a partnership between the Voorhees Fellows and the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance’s Food Economic Development Work Group. The Food Economic Development Work Group asked the Voorhees Fellows to explore how community food incubators work and to identify the resources, institutions, and programs New Brunswick already has to support the creation of new and expansion of existing community food businesses.

New Brunswick is home to many current and future food business entrepreneurs. Some are home cooks who would like to start a food business. Others would like to expand their current businesses by selling from a food cart, food truck, or restaurant. Some cooks produce one well developed product such as tamales, pasteles, or empanadas and others cook meals or a variety of products. Many communities are creating food entrepreneurship programs to support cooks like these with the aim of spurring community economic development. Many of these cooks in New Brunswick are low-income and to grow their businesses, need access to low-cost commercial kitchen space, business support and training, insurance, food safety training and certification, and start-up assistance among other things. Having access to certified commercial kitchen space is essential because food business entrepreneurs in New Jersey have to make food in certified commercial kitchens. The 2016 New Brunswick Food Assessment found that there is demand for commercial kitchen space especially in the early morning hours, that cooks may need space to store ingredients and equipment, that many need freezer and refrigeration space, and that most can spend no more than twenty to one hundred dollars per week to rent space (New Brunswick Community Food Assessment, 2016).

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