New Nonprofit Kitchen in Valley Working to Open
Mat-Su Community Kitchen plans on feeding hungry in the community
PALMER - A new nonprofit organization in Palmer still needs a lot of help before it can open its doors. Right now the Mat-Su Community Commercial Kitchen is just a bunch of second-hand appliances waiting to be put to good use. Staff hope to do that in several ways. The first is to be a commercial kitchen caterers or culinary entrepreneurs can rent.
“I've had friends that have had really great ideas but have not been able to take it to market because of the labeling and the health requirements. So it was great as long as they were giving it away or at the bake sale at the church, but they couldn't go public with it. So it needs to happen,” said Director of Operations Dennis Ruckle.
The other goal is to form partnerships with organizations like Meals on Wheels and senior centers to provide more food for the hungry.
“The senior center produces over 300 meals a day. And that's a lot for a small kitchen where they could probably double that with the outside help and we want to be able to do that,” said Monica Whittaker, the kitchen's executive director.
They have most of the equipment for the kitchen, and now the biggest and most expensive challenge is getting the gas and electric lines up to date. They estimate that will cost more than $150,000 and are hoping to get some help.
“If there's an electrician or plumber or mechanical engineer who would like to donate his time and service, we would love that. We're not going to refuse it. If you have nothing but funds or a dollar or two, we'll take that too. Every little bit counts and it helps,” said Whittaker.
With a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of community support, Whittaker hopes the kitchen will hopefully be a place to bring people together and help neighbors in need.
Staff are waiting to hear back from the fire marshall before they submit permits to the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Mat-Su Community Commercial Kitchen will tentatively open January 1, 2013.