Wholesome Children Inc., Mon County Middle making a mannequin meals hub

Wholesome Children Inc., Mon County Middle making a mannequin meals hub

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MORGANTOWN — When former Monongalia County Commissioner Ed Hawkins pitched the thought to incorporate an industrial group kitchen as a part of the Mon County Middle, he seemingly didn’t envision that inside two years it could turn out to be a part of a nationwide mannequin for the central kitchen idea.

However that’s precisely what’s occurred because of the venue’s relationship with its very first shopper, Wholesome Children Inc.

Since 2021, Wholesome Children has gone from making ready 80 nutrient-dense, regionally sourced meals from scratch every day to 1,000.

These meals are delivered to childcare facilities throughout Monongalia, Marion, Taylor and Harrison counties, in addition to the Sensible Path Restoration Middle in Westover.

“The Mon County Middle has turn out to be a mannequin for different kitchens throughout the state, to create different hubs throughout the state. It’s a mannequin that others at the moment are utilizing. They’re coming to the kitchen and eager to see. It’s truly grown even past West Virginia,” Wholesome Children co-founder Mandy Curry defined.

The kitchen lately hosted a consultant of Bezos Academy, a community of tuition-free Montessori-inspired preschools funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“They’re eager to do central kitchens for all their Montessori colleges throughout the nation. They picked 13 central kitchens throughout the nation to take a look at and we had been one in every of them,” Curry mentioned. “They sought us out.”

Fairly spectacular.

However they’re simply getting began.

The subsequent section of the county’s kitchen, centered on meals preservation, is predicted to come back on line this month.

“We’re within the strategy of getting our producer’s license too, so that may permit us to do further issues out of the preservation kitchen, one in every of which is the creation of particular person meals, frozen meals, that may be produced out of that kitchen and despatched to different elements of the state – senior meals, after faculty meals, no matter it could be. We’ll have that potential,” Curry mentioned.

Aiding that course of will probably be funds from an Appalachian Regional Fee (ARC) Energy Grant. ARC lately awarded the West Virginia Meals and Farm Coalition $1,134,341, a few of which is able to come to Wholesome Children over the following three years as a part of ARC’s goal to develop the agricultural sector, promote financial progress and assist entry to regionally sourced meals.

Curry mentioned the company has a objective of manufacturing a million meals out of a number of kitchens in that timeframe.

Mary Hastings, who works on behalf of the Wholesome Children nonprofit, Challenge Wholesome Children, mentioned these funds will also be used to help native farmers.

“As a part of the ARC Energy Grant, we’re working to ascertain the Mon County Middle as extra of a meals hub than it already is. If there are any farmers fascinated by promoting into the entrepreneurial kitchen, we’re trying to purchase native produce, beef, eggs and issues like that,” Hastings mentioned. “Additionally, via our companions on the West Virginia Meals and Farm Coalition, they’re going to supply technical assist for farmers who wish to develop their capability or their manufacturing plans.”

These can attain Hastings at mary@projecthealthykids.org.

Wholesome Children makes use of the kitchen from 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday via Friday, however it’s out there for lease across the clock.

“It’s a full-scale, multi-use kitchen,” Mon County Middle Director Rachel Mitchell mentioned. “We do evenings and weekends. It was designed to be a 24-hour kitchen. We will do quite a bit in there.”

Contact Mitchell at rmitchell@monongaliacounty.gov or 304-291-9128 to inquire about renting the group kitchen.

Each Curry and members of the Monongalia County Fee mentioned Mitchell has been instrumental in making this partnership work. Curry famous the assets included within the $400,000 kitchen are additionally central to the early success.

“What makes all that work is the gear. You geared up it so properly to have the ability to do what it does. Issues just like the blast chiller; that’s a present for communities to have that. Many don’t have that. There’s gear right here that’s great for the group and it’s going to assist lots of people,” Curry mentioned. “I don’t know … it’s simply excellent.”

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