Southeast Provides Opportunities for Regional Food Entrepreneurs

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

July 23, 2004 – The Southeast Missouri State University Innovation Center and the University of Missouri Extension invite food entrepreneurs to participate in a tour of a Certified Quantity use kitchen on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 11.

The purpose of the tour is to provide food entrepreneurs a glimpse of the certified kitchen that Dr. Georganne Syler, associate professor of human environmental studies, says is expected to open to the public as a certified, shared-use, commercial kitchen beginning in spring 2005.

 “We have a certified kitchen here on campus that is used for teaching purposes but sits empty some of the time,” she said. “If this kitchen is something that food producers in the region could utilize, then Southeast is all for making the kitchen accessible to the public. We need to meet with local people who could use a facility like this to achieve their business goals, so we are better able to address their processing needs when we are updating the kitchen.”

Kate Keeley, agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, said “The purpose of a shared-use kitchen is to provide a commercial processing area that is agency approved for area entrepreneurs for baking, canning, catering, drying and freezing foods.  These products can then be sold in a variety of retail outlets or under a variety of marketing strategies.

“Two of the largest obstacles small food processors face, are compiling with stringent health regulations and the high cost of building his or her own kitchen that falls within the state and county guidelines,” she said.  Keeley says she has determined there is a great need here for a certified, community kitchen through the Missouri Regional Cuisine project, administered by Dr. Beth Barham. 

“One goal of the Missouri Regional Cuisine project is to create a regional identity for Southeast Missouri that is based on local specialty foods, wines and landscapes,” she said. “A local, certified, community kitchen is critical to achieving this goal.”

Keeley says a resource such as this will give small business men and women the opportunity to fine-tune their business ideas without investing the capital it takes to create a kitchen that meets all the health and state regulations. 

“We are delighted that Southeast has stepped forth to provide this opportunity to our communities,” she said, “and we hope this kitchen will serve as a pilot program for other shared-use kitchens in the region.”

For more information regarding the Aug. 11 tour, contact Kate Keeley, (573) 883-3548, keeleyk@missouri.edu or Dr. Georganne Syler, (573) 651-2890, gsyler@semo.edu.