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Farm Fresh Rhode Island Harvest Kitchen Program

The Challenge

Rhode Island youth involved with the RI Department of Children, Youth, and Families need job skills, and local farms need a way to preserve surplus and B-Grade produce from becoming food waste.

The Approach

Train youth ages 16–19 involved with the RI Department of Children, Youth, and Families on culinary job skills while creating a line of value-added products using ingredients sourced from local farms. Trainees also gain hands-on retail experience selling these goods at farmers markets and working in the Harvest Kitchen Café in downtown Pawtucket.

By The Numbers

Since it started in 2010, this program has made a significant impact.

  • Number of youth served by the Harvest Kitchen culinary training program: 152+
  • Number of local farmers & producers sourced from for Harvest Kitchen production and Café: 50+
  • Percentage of trainees who have graduated from the program: 70%

Sustain & Create Markets for RI Food & Beverage Products

This program directly impacts RI local food markets by creating new value-added products from produce grown on RI farms and selling them at farmers markets, the Harvest Kitchen Café, and other retail locations.

Program Description

Harvest Kitchen trains youth age 16-19 who are involved with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families for culinary jobs and provides them with practical experience in retail food sales. After graduation, trainees are placed in internship with local organizations such as community-based kitchens, schools, school/university cafeterias, restaurants, and cafes. This program empowers young people as it equips them with real-world skills and instills in them a passion for local food. Harvest Kitchen does all this while helping RI farms reduce food waste and increase gross sales. Because the products are sold at farmers markets and other locations that accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, Harvest Kitchen also expands access to nutritious local fruits and vegetables.

Future Plans

Harvest Kitchen will continue to train young people, process B-grade produce from local farms, and sell locally grown products at farmers markets, the Harvest Kitchen café and other retail venues.

This Rhode Island Story was prepared by Nhu Phung.