Enterprise Sense | Can home-cooked meals heal what ails us? – Instances-Commonplace
I heard a growing local interest in AB 626, a law passed in California in 2019 that would allow home cooks living in jurisdictions where they chose to obtain approval for the Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEKHO) to apply.
Cooks with a MEKHO permit can cook and serve meals by delivery, takeaway, or food directly from home. Given that so many in the cooking and restaurant industry are currently unemployed or underemployed, and a recent preliminary report found chefs are at high risk of death from COVID-19, it’s not difficult to see why the local interest in Alternative business models for providing food services can grow.
When local resident Bryan Phillips recently became unemployed due to the pandemic, he was forced to start cooking at home. Soon there were requests for him to prepare meals for his friends and family. This made him think about his options and that’s how he eventually met AB 626. Without access to capital, it is certainly attractive to start a business by cooking meals in your home.
One of the strengths of MEKHOs is their ability to act as business incubators. Commercial kitchens can be unaffordable when a business is just starting out and there is uncertainty about success. The ability to start cooking at home can allow chefs to see what is in demand for their food and, if well received, can expand their business to a commercial kitchen and from there to a grocery cart , Truck or shop.
The appeal also extends to those who want something that stays small. For example, Lauren Sarabia of Comfort of Home Catering has often dreamed of serving homemade pizzas to the community in her backyard.
It is important to note that MEHKOs can prepare a maximum of 30 meals per day and a total of 60 meals per week. This is very small, as Brian explained to me, that restaurants in the area (at least during non-pandemic times) can easily eat an average of 100 to 300 meals a day – but it allows them to make up to $ 50,000 a year which is certainly still significant enough to increase household incomes and provide livelihoods for the population, especially as we recover from the pandemic.
AB 626 is the first law of its kind in the country, and since its inception, the Political Committee of the Humboldt Council for Food Policy has followed developments in its implementation across the country. It has now happened in three counties, the last one from our southern neighbor, Lake County.
Whether or not Humboldt County’s introduction of AB 626 is right for our region is hard to know, but I can safely say that this growing interest in understanding the options for home cooked meals and work for our local chefs is one important opportunity for We want to examine what the economic recovery of our region should look like. What does our church need to be more resilient now and in the foreseeable future? How can we nurture and adopt local strategies and practices that have the potential to improve community health and economic stability?
May Patiño is an anthropologist, specialist in food systems and coordinator of the Humboldt Council for food policy. You can contact them at [email protected].