I chose to work with Spice Kitchen Incubator for my Service Learning Project. Spice Kitchen Incubator is a non-profit program created to help lower-income, refugee, and immigrant entrepreneurs start a food business. The program is a partnership between the International Rescue Committee and Salt Lake County and is fairly new. Many of the entrepreneurs will be in the program from 6 months to 5 years, before they graduate.
The reason I chose Spice Kitchen Incubator for my volunteer service is because I am very passionate about food and the success of small businesses. Although I had originally planned to volunteer by working directly with one of the program's entrepreneurs to create a logo and branding guidelines, due to scheduling conflicts I instead came in to help around the office. I started by taking a quick tour of the facility which includes everything the entrepreneurs might need on a day to day basis. One of the entrepreneurs had recently done a tasting for a variety of desserts, and I was able to sample them as well. Delish!
Throughout the day clients called in to request catering from program members then program coordinators called out to the entrepreneurs to confirm menus and scheduling for the catering events. My first task was to compile and create an updated phone list of the current and recently accepted entrepreneurs as the program had just added 11 new trainees!
The facility itself is centrally located in South Salt Lake near many of the food supply stores entrepreneurs might need to visit. The second task I completed for the day was to research and compile a resource list for entrepreneurs to use as a quick reference guide to finding supplies near the facility. Factors I was looking for were distance from the facility, address, phone, types of food service products they offer (i.e. food, paper goods, equipment), and whether a membership or business license was required. It was very interesting to see the struggles food services businesses might have finding supplies as there was not much variety as far as food and paper goods wholesalers go.
I also learned that although I was just doing clerical work it was really nice to be able to help in a simple way that took these tasks off the schedule of the program coordinators. It was also interesting to see that something that seems as trivial as a phone list gets used all day in the operation of the Spice Kitchen.
I really enjoyed volunteering and I am planning to return to volunteer as early as this Friday to help one of the entrepreneurs set up a website. I'm also planning to work with Spice Kitchen to set up a social media workshop as part of the entrepreneurs' curriculum. Since many of the entrepreneurs are also working another job it's difficult to coordinate schedules but I intend to help when I can!