Community kitchens for food processing

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Expert Opinion

Strategies with this rating are recommended by credible, impartial experts but have limited research documenting effects; further research, often with stronger designs, is needed to confirm effects.

Health Factors  
Date last updated
Community in Action

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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 governments1

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Strengthened local & regional food systems

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Increased food security

  • Improved local economy

What does the research say about effectiveness?

Community kitchens that support licensed food processing are a suggested strategy to strengthen local and regional food systems2, increase food security3, and enhance local economies1. A West Philadelphia-based report suggests community kitchens may support business development and food entrepreneurship, job creation, and neighborhood revitalization4. 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 success1, 5

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated no impact on disparities likely.
Implementation Examples

As of 2017, there are 726 community kitchens that support licensed food processing in the U.S. registered with CulinaryIncubator.com6.

Implementation Resources

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

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

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

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.


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

2 USDA-Community facilities - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Community facilities programs.

3 USDA-CFPCGP - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP).

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

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

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