Changing the Menu, Growing Your Business

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Passaic County Food Policy Council

Can Food Businesses Have Their Cake and Eat it, Too? “Changing the Menu, Growing Your Business”: A Multicultural Food Business Seminar Event in Paterson, NJPat

On September 19th, the Passaic County Food Policy Council participated in an event that attracted the right mix of public and private sectors and included: restaurant owners, culinary school chefs, food industry professionals, food entrepreneurs, and community leaders.

I think that the idea of designing this event was inspired by what we have learned through the Passaic County Food Policy Council (PCFPC), of which I am a member.  I represent the Paterson Restoration Corporation and the City of Paterson on the PCFPC.  The work of the PCFPC aligns with the work of the city, and the PRC goals such as: bringing a food business incubator to the City of Paterson and supporting Healthy Corner Stores.

The event was a collaborative effort, and with the support of the Passaic County Economic Development Department, we leveraged our efforts to create the first in a series of educational summits. The goal of the seminars is to educate food providers about: new government food regulations; trends and tools to market their business; and grow their customer base in order to meet the growing consumer demand for healthy food. As the City of Paterson prepares to open its first USDA food business incubator in 2017, the subject could not be timelier.

The main topic of the event was how to incorporate healthy, culturally appropriate food production and marketing into a business. Goya Foods Food Scientist/Nutritionist, Meriterese Racanelli, MS, R&D, was the keynote speaker, and it was a powerhouse presentation, to say the least. Other topics of this seminar included: food industry trends and opportunities, improving healthy options in a business, and increasing profits and customer base. Many attendees were multicultural food establishments and small businesses, and have little or no access to food industry guidelines and information.

With that said, members of the Passaic County Food Policy Council, along with additional partners, are already cooking up ideas for the next of the series of programs in Paterson and beyond.

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Cristina Deutsch
The City of Paterson/ Paterson Restoration Corporation