Community kitchens for food processing

Community kitchens that support licensed, commercial food processing activities allow specialty food processors, farmers, caterers, and others to produce value-added goods at relatively low cost. Kitchen clients pay for the time they use the kitchen and frequently share their expertise with each other. Such community kitchens meet city, state, and federal health guidelines and can be run by many types of organizations including non-profits, private for-profit groups, universities, and state governments (UW CIAS-Kitchens). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Strengthened local & regional food systems

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased food security

  • Improved local economy

Evidence of Effectiveness

Community kitchens that support licensed food processing are a suggested strategy to strengthen local and regional food systems (USDA-Community facilities), increase food security (USDA-CFPCGP), and enhance local economies (UW CIAS-Kitchens). A West Philadelphia-based report suggests community kitchens may support business development and food entrepreneurship, job creation, and neighborhood revitalization (Heeger 2014). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Interviews with community kitchen organizers suggest that having clear goals, knowledge of community-specific interest, detailed plans for addressing overhead costs and long-term profitability, and committed leadership with strong partnerships are key factors for success (UW CIAS-Kitchens, Topaloff 2014). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

As of 2017, there are 726 community kitchens that support licensed food processing in the US registered with CulinaryIncubator.com (Culinary incubator).

Implementation Resources

AgMRC-Kitchens - Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC). Kitchen incubators.

UW-FBIN - Food Business Innovation Network (FoodBIN). Resources for incubators.

LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), Center for Global Policy Solutions, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2014.

Topaloff 2014 - Topaloff A. The shared-use kitchen planning toolkit. Leopold Center Pubs and Papers. 2014.

Citations - Evidence

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UW CIAS-Kitchens - Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS). Community kitchens: Key elements of success (Research brief #54).

USDA-Community facilities - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Community facilities programs.

USDA-CFPCGP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP).

Heeger 2014 - Heeger B. Cooking up success: The Enterprise Center-CDC and leveraging the food industry for community development. Social Innovations Journal. 2014.

Topaloff 2014 - Topaloff A. The shared-use kitchen planning toolkit. Leopold Center Pubs and Papers. 2014.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Culinary incubator - Culinary Incubator. The source in shared part-time commercial kitchen rentals.

Date Last Updated

Jan 10, 2018