Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Taste Marketplace is Food for the Soul

Quiches from Two Bites
Hunger (n): A compelling need or desire for food.
Starve (v): To die or perish from lack of food or nourishment

How often have you uttered the words, "I am starving!" when lunchtime passes and you haven't had the chance to eat yet? I am guilty of it. I throw around that word all the time, sometimes in a dramatic fit when I have to wait for food. But the reality is that I am far from starving. When I attend events such as the New Taste Marketplace, a monthly fundraiser for the Food Pantry and St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, it makes me stop and really appreciate what I have.

Founded and run by Market Director Elianna Friedman, the New Taste Marketplace is a community gathering of small food vendors who use this opportunity to sell their goods to the public. These are not the big food trucks you might see rolling around the city. These vendors are the small entrepreneurs, the ones who may craft their food in their homes and who otherwise might not have the platform to introduce their creations. From Ruby's Oats to Nosh This to Sugar and Swine, the Marketplace showcases goods from over 30 different vendors, who all offer something unique and made with love.

Caramels from Nosh This
Friedman has always been involved in hunger causes and non-profits. She was working at the San Francisco Food Bank when she was approached by St. Gregory's Reverend Sarah Miles, the founder of the Food Pantry. Miles had an idea of starting a market and asked Friedman to come by and evaluate the Church's space.

"Actually I didn't even know I was being interviewed. I thought she just wanted to get my opinion on whether or not it could work here," Friedman said. She thought that was the end of it until Miles asked, "OK, can you run it?"

It was there that the idea began to take shape and the New Taste Marketplace was born.  Each month the Marketplace raises over $2,000 for the Food Pantry and helps feed the 600 people who attend their Farmers Market-style food bank each Friday. It also helps the vendors who might not otherwise have an opportunity to sell their goods.

"They really got together," Friedman said. "The vendors both need an outlet to sell their food, and we need to do the fundraiser to help the pantry. So it's a really good match."

Bacon Caramel Corn from Sugar and Swine
The Marketplace is allowed to operate under what is known as the "Craven Allowance," which allows non-profit organizations to hold what is essentially a large bake sale for three days out of every 90. The Marketplace is held once a month. Since it's a fundraising event, the Department of Health allows the Market to exist without risk of being shut down, as was the case with the San Francisco Underground Market in June. In order for a vendor to participate, they must also contribute funds toward the Food Pantry. July's Marketplace was the first one since the suspension of the Underground Market, and Friedman noted that this was the most vendors they have ever had. More vendors means more donations to the Food Bank.

Vendors who are interested in joining the Marketplace must go through an application process, and Friedman said that so far they have been able to accept almost everybody. But they may need to limit that soon because of space issues. Should that happen, Friedman said, they may need to go to a rotating schedule to make it fair for everybody to get a chance.

Each Friday the Food Pantry holds a Farmer's Market type of food bank. Tables are set up in the Church in the same space as the Marketplace and filled with fresh food and vegetables. Friedman explained that this style works better than handing out a pre-made box, because it gives people the chance to choose the best food to fit the needs of their families.

Inside the New Taste Marketplace
"These tables are set up with food on it. When people come in they have their bags, and they get to walk around and pick out what they want, so there is a lot of dignity involved with that process," she said. "It's a great service because you know from being inside the church how welcoming the space is, so I think people feel really comfortable coming here. They don't feel ashamed or anything; they can just come in and pick our their groceries just like you and I would and go home and feed their families."

Upon entering the New Taste Marketplace, a sign reads that a $1.00 donation will feed a family for a day. That is because the Food Pantry gets its food from the San Francisco Food Bank, where it costs them $.18 cents a pound. Entrance into the Marketplace is on a sliding scale, from $0-$10 so that patrons can decide how much they can afford to donate. In addition to donations from visitors, all food vendors are required to donate a portion of their proceeds, a requirement of both the Department of Health as well as the New Taste Marketplace.

Breakfast Bowls from Ruby's Oats
The Food Pantry recently went through a reorganization to accommodate the increase in the number people it feeds after they saw a jump from 300 people a week to 600 people a week.

"Whatever the community needs, the Food Pantry here will be able to provide it." Friedman stated. "If it goes up to more they will figure out a way to serve more."

Currently the Marketplace operates once a month, but with the increased numbers of vendors who want to participate and the growing need to feed more people, Friedman postulated on looking at increasing the frequency of the Marketplace once they hit their one-year Anniversary.

"The plan is, at a year we will evaluate and see. If we think that the community wants more...we will send out an evaluation, and if the community wants us to do it more, we would be open to it."

Over the next few weeks we'll share the stories of some of the vendors involved in the Marketplace. It turns out that the New Taste Marketplace, while serving its charter of feeding the needy in San Francisco, also does a pretty good job of helping the Bay Area's food entrepreneurs get on their feet, too.

New Taste Marketplace (@newtastemarket)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...