Letter to the Editor: Sussex County partners offer ‘kitchen incubator’ to food startups

As a farmer’s daughter, I know the importance of growing a crop as well as a business. In Sussex County, we are fortunate to have many farmers who are continually expanding the type of crops they grow. And as these entrepreneurs consider how to grow their business ventures — perhaps through farmers markets, food trucks or restaurant sales — I have been doing what I can at the state level to help them achieve success.

While serving as a member of the budget-writing committee this year, I worked to have state funding allocated by our Joint Finance Committee for what is known as a “kitchen incubator” program in Sussex County. In the current fiscal year 2021 budget, state funding in the amount of $150,000 will be used as seed money to help develop the kitchen incubator model in Sussex.

Together with Sussex County economic development director Bill Pfaff, we have formed a working group that will discuss the need and viability of how to offer a shared-use, commissary kitchen to local startups in the food industry. The extraordinary concerns related to overhead costs and public health guidelines alone can overwhelm any food entrepreneur. However, producing a safe and quality product is first and foremost. Our kitchen incubator model will help growers create and market their specialty products without all the worry that comes with running a full-blown operation.

I am hopeful this venture will be successful and lead us to other similar endeavors to support local, homegrown businesses of all types in Sussex County.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King