Adda Coffee & Tea House partners with Scratch Food & Beverage to help bridge food accessibility gaps
Access to fresh, local foods is a challenge for many communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further magnified the problems of food accessibility, leaving many families with limited options for groceries. The risk involved with public transportation, the limiting of store hours and loss of income, leaves many stuck in neighborhoods without a grocery store. Even in ideal circumstances, nutritious and fresh foods are some of the most expensive grocery items as well as the most difficult for food banks and charitable organizations to distribute due to short shelf life. Don Mahaney, owner of Scratch Food & Beverage in Troy Hill is looking to help address this community need with his new initiative, The Farm to Pantry Project.
Scratch, like restaurants all over the country, has suffered major losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With constantly shifting information and guidelines, Mahaney wanted to pivot part of his business to help his community and his employees.
“Right now, our food supply system is based on a national supply chain. It’s very robust but weak in a lot of ways too. We’re seeing the effects of that amplified right now,” says Mahaney.
The Farm to Pantry Project seeks to create healthy, shelf stable grocery staples and make them available through purchase points around the city. The project connects with local farmers to source fresh produce and is putting Scratch’s employees through a training program through the Better Process Control School. This university extension program certifies its students in thermal processing, acidification and container closure evaluation. This certification allows them to safely produce certain kinds of acidified canned foods. While Scratch is the founding restaurant for the project, Mahaney hopes to expand the model to other partner kitchens.
“I’m presenting a new business model for the restaurant that will benefit our community and the larger community,” says Mahaney. “I want people to become more keenly aware of the food value chain. Investments in your local community can make a big difference.”
Adda Coffee & Tea House is partnering with Scratch to become the first partner distribution point for The Farm to Pantry Project. By carrying these locally grown, preserved products, we hope to improve access to nutritious food in our locations and through our Adda Bazaar Community Shop.
“It is an ecosystem that needed support to close the accessibility gap. Local growers have enough supply and restaurants now have excess capacity that can be deployed for this value added project. The need for healthy nutritious food especially in local food pantries is stronger than ever” says Sukanta Nag, the owner of Adda Coffee & Tea House.
Mahaney is currently developing and testing recipes with his staff and sourcing produce through Wild Purveyors. He hopes to soon have FDA approval and to grow his network of local farms. Once approved, these groceries will be available for sale at Scratch and Adda Coffee & Tea House.