Navigating COVID-19 in the Food Industry

Shared kitchens and food businesses are facing uncertainty. Between restaurant closures, supply chain disruptions, and event cancelations, it’s likely that you’ve had to adjust your standard operation. During a time of significant disruption, opportunities can arise as quickly as they disappear. For example meal prep and food delivery has never seen so much growth as families look for ways to feed themselves during lockdowns and quarantines. Your shared kitchen or food business may be in a position to help fill this need.

As a convener of the industry, we want to help in any way that we can. That means communicating resources, spreading hope, and facilitating the sharing of innovative ideas when they emerge. Below is our collection of ideas and resources to help your business sustain and succeed in the midst of COVID-19. 

Ideas for shared kitchens and your clients

Crowdsourced win-win ideas from The NICK (Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens):

  • Can you help your food business clients transition their business to meal prep, takeout, and/or delivery?
  • Are there others in the community trained and equipped to prep and deliver meals out of your kitchen, such as laid-off restaurant staff? Do they know about your kitchen?
  • What online groups have emerged in your community? Have you joined and shared about your business struggles and opportunities? 
  • Are there alternative immune-boosting or sanitation products your clients have the ability to make, such as elderberry syrup, cleaning supplies, or hand sanitizer?
  • Do you have clients with the ability to host online cooking classes or demonstrations?
  • Can you offer up your kitchen to other community members, such as farmers and market vendors, and turn your space into a temporary corner store or curbside pickup? 
  • Who might you partner with (local agencies, local government, volunteer drivers) to get meals and products to those in need, such as front-line healthcare workers and elderly?
  • Is there government funding or private funding your kitchen can take advantage of to get meals into people’s hands? 
  • Have you registered your kitchen with FEMA or SBA disaster loans, for financial support? 
  • Does your local health department know your kitchen can be a resource?
  • Is there a local Meals on Wheels, Food Bank, or other nonprofit in your area that could use your kitchen’s or clients’ services?
  • Is your listing on The Kitchen Door up-to-date so displaced food workers can easily find and contact you?
  • Can you adapt Logan Square Kitchen’s Standards of Practice to screen all persons entering your facility?

Resources for food businesses

  • For restaurants looking to get online, access delivery or pick-up, or sell gift cards:
  • Take advantage of existing delivery services in your area:
    • DoorDash – free delivery, zero commission fees for 30 days, and marketing support
    • UberEats – free delivery, and waived signup fees with fast tracked onboarding for restaurants new to the app
    • GrubHub – zero commission fees and community relief fund (available in major cities)
    • PostMates – zero commission fees and community relief fund (available in San Francisco, plus pilot programs for those interested in other cities)
    • A local delivery service in your area
  • Platforms to help with transitioning your operation model or accessing new customer bases:
    • Galley – productivity platform for the food industry
    • Ordermark – manage all your delivery orders, from different services, in only one dashboard.
    • EZCater – an online marketplace for catered meal delivery
    • Nextbite – become a fulfillment partner to generate more revenue for your restaurant/kitchen with turnkey delivery-only concepts.
  • Other food industry resources – such as impact analyses, financial support, brand advice, webinars, and more

Navigating the crisis together

Please share more about your situation and creative ideas, so we can spread the word and help your kitchen and clients’ businesses continue to succeed in the midst of COVID-19.

We will continue to update this post with the latest ideas and resources. 

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