Mera Kitchen Collective: A Food Co-op Focused on the Empowerment of the Baltimore Refugee & Immigrant Community
The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, digests this region’s small business landscape through food and beverage entrepreneurship. Tune in for trending new Tidbits at the top of the show, and then live interviews with business owners throughout the DC & Baltimore Metro Areas. Each week show host Kim Bryden will intertwine socio-cultural context, personal narrative, and business advice at The Tidbit.
EPISODE 06: Mera Kitchen Collective — a Food Co-op Focused on the Empowerment of the Baltimore Refugee & Immigrant Community
A FEW QUOTES:
- "Baltimore has a long history of being a destination for refugees – from people fleeing pogroms in the early 20th century to Soviet refugees in the 1980s and 90s. In fact, Old Bay Seasoning, Baltimore’s iconic spice, was invented by a refugee who had fled Nazi-occupied Germany."
- The refugee community in Baltimore is such an isolated community. They are not integrated into the larger Baltimore community.
- "Our policies and systems can create structural barriers that make it harder for some individuals to gain access to resources and opportunities." This is a core tenant of why you created Mera Kitchen.
- We wanted to create something intentional to overcome these barriers. [...] We wanted to create a structure that [...] focused on empowerment and growth.
- Pop-up dinners, catering events, coffee ceremony... We focused on Eritrean, Cameroonian, and Syrian cuisine.
- Hosting a Refugee Community event! Check it out (see image below).
- People don't want just a handout of assistance, these are really skilled professionals. You want to resume some sort of normal life.
- Iman, one of our worker-owners, she makes this incredible rice. She has a lot of ways of preparing it, and people want to know the story behind it. [Iman] always says, this is my son's favorite rice.
- We [Mera Kitchen Collective] want to use our platform for advocacy.
- We're hoping in a year or two we can have our own space [...] and that we have both a profit and non-profit side to our business.
- The most important part is that we continue to transfer knowledge and information.
- One of the principles of cooperatives is cooperation amongst cooperatives.
- Project Goal: To use funds towards Farmer's Market launch, pay for worker-owners to attend ServSafe classes (donate! patreon.com/thetidbit)
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