Community kitchens serve up solution for home businesses
North Glengarry Township and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit have started a pilot project that will allow two township-owned facilities to be used as community kitchens.
“Initially, the Community Kitchens project was intended to assist small, mostly local home-based food producers to expand their businesses by offering affordable Eastern Ontario Health Unit-certified spaces,” wrote North Glengarry’s Community Services Director Anne Leduc in a report to council. “These producers had usually outgrown their existing spaces but were not at the point of being able to upgrade, rent or purchase commercial space.”
Last July, new legislation came into effect that made it illegal for a private residence to operate as a food premises – defined by Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act as “a premises where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a room actually used as a dwelling in a private residence.”
That – along with requirements that food preparation spaces had to be inspected and certified by the health unit – spelled the end of many home-based food businesses in the area. Indeed, when a local grassroots organization called All Things Food asked SD-based home-based food businesses if they would close in the wake of the new legislation, 10 of the 26 respondents said yes and a further seven said they were still considering their options.
Subsequently, the health unit agreed to enter into the pilot project with the township. Under this new agreement, the township will make its kitchens at The Glengarry Sports Palace and the Maxville & District Sports Complex available to qualified users for a rate of $50 per day.
Both kitchens have been approved by the health unit. Bookings will be the responsibility of the Director of Community Services. Lead hands at the two facilities will be responsible for ensuring both kitchens meet health unit standards.