FEED Kitchens’ social entrepreneurial project is Madison to the core

So is “chocolate CSA”*

To showcase their conference home city, Madison+ events offer attendees lots of local flavor. This year, Adam Haen from FEED Kitchens in Madison supplied Snow*Mobile 2014 with a passionate talk about exciting things taking place at his food-based small business incubator.

FEED Kitchens, or Food Enterprise and Economic Development, is located on the corner of Aberg and Sherman Avenues on Madison’s north side. FEED’s goal is to provide economic opportunities for those who want to develop kitchen-based endeavors, whether it’s a small bakery hoping to run the next cupcake empire, a food cart owner experimenting with innovative recipes, or a non-profit working to get fresh local vegetables into the schools. Owned by the Northside Planning Council, it’s a multi-user incubator available to members 24/7—one of whom is currently getting a chocolate CSA up and running.

The 5,400 square foot building offers five distinct areas for users: a bakery with a roll-in oven—if you need 1200 cookies baked in 12 minutes, this is your place; a vegetable processing kitchen; a restaurant-like deli kitchen; a training kitchen; and a meat-processing kitchen, which is in the second phase of development. Dry, cold, and frozen storage is also available to users.

Funded through a combination of grants, donations, and sponsors, FEED Kitchens builds businesses and provides start-up support. It helps its members deal with the health department, figure out what insurance they need to get started, and even offers a conference room and office space. Small business support in the form of a group buying club membership, access to business workshops, and connections to business capital sources and industry networks is also available.

The failure rate for new restaurants is high due to astronomical costs for facilities. By joining FEED, members cut their risks substantially. In addition to entrepreneurial food producers, community organizations also use the kitchens for fund raisers. Nonprofits offer job training in food service for the unemployed users of the food pantry and recently-released inmates. At the end of the nine-week program, there is a test and participants get a certificate that helps them to secure a job. MATC will offer non-credit classes, and there are also opportunities available to participate in chef demonstrations.

FEED’s mission and facilities are creating awesome opportunities for local makers. Thanks to FEED, one can now subscribe to chocolate.