Progress report (November): Community Kitchen construction is complete!

The kitchen’s main meal production room is ready to go.

It’s the time of year to be thankful. And our staff here at Foodlink is certainly thankful that there’s a new rule in place inside our new Community Kitchen.

Hard hats …. Optional.

The construction phase of this transformative, $4.9 million project officially ended Friday. Crews are still around tidying up and tying up some loose ends, but otherwise, the keys are ours. It’s amazing what came together in just under seven months.

Foodlink’s kitchen staff now awaits the first day of production – slated for Dec. 5 – at their new Mt. Read Boulevard digs. Our sliced apple operations (Value-Added Processing) will be on hold briefly as the staff settles into their new surroundings, but it shouldn’t be long until our new VAP equipment is humming along.

Call me crazy, but I think our apple-slicing line is about to replace our walk-in freezer as the highlight of every kid’s tour. Yes, the freezer had a good five-year run. But this equipment, which seems to go on for miles, is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

More: Learn more about the project

A peek inside the Value-Added Processing room at Foodlink's new Community Kitchen.

A peek inside the Value-Added Processing room at Foodlink’s new Community Kitchen.

The third focus area of our new kitchen, workforce development, comes later. We’re thankful to Wegmans Food Markets for guiding us through that process and we’re hopeful that eventually a lucky group of culinary enthusiasts will find our new home as welcoming and promising as we already do.

We tout these three ventures — meal production, value-added processing and workforce development — at every opportunity. Each will no doubt help our regional economy, as well as our region’s most vulnerable populations. But the simple fact that all of Foodlink finally will reside under one roof is particularly meaningful to our staff.

About 20 members of the “Foodlink family” will join us each day at Mt. Read Boulevard. We’ve always needed to schedule two staff meetings (one for the kitchen, one for Mt. Read) to accommodate our staff. That changes next month.

Watching the kitchen transform from a vacant warehouse to this high-tech, mission-driven kitchen has been awe-inspiring. If you don’t remember what the space formerly looked like, check it out here … and here

The construction phase of the kitchen is “done.” But the work, really, has just begun.

 

More state-of-the-art equipment inside the Community Kitchen.

More state-of-the-art equipment inside the Community Kitchen.

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