Mission: To build community wealth through food-based initiatives that offer access to affordable healthy food, living wage employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities to residents.
Vision: A thriving food economy in which residents are employed in food industry careers and entrepreneurship, recovered food fuels economic growth, and healthy foods are easily accessed in every Bridgeport neighborhood.
The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) is a division of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. The Council was founded in 1945 as a non-sectarian direct services organization committed to creating and sustaining a more just, healthy, and vibrant community that serves all people, regardless of religion, race, or creed. For 75 years, The Council has been effectively addressing food insecurity by supporting a network of independent food pantries and soup kitchens through its Hunger Outreach Network (HON). FEED supplies food, funds, and technical assistance to the 30+ HON members.
In 2015, FEED determined that The Council could address poverty using food to build community wealth through innovative food-based initiatives.
FEED’s economic development-based initiatives build assets and wealth within the Bridgeport community by providing culinary training to low-income residents for food industry employment and entrepreneurial ventures through our successful CREATE program.
FEED is committed to creating economic opportunity through its programs to break the poverty cycle using food as its fuel.
In 2019, FEED pivoted and became a social enterprise. The social enterprise model better reflects its core principle of creating economic opportunity through its programs to break the poverty cycle using food as its fuel.
Food is at the heart of FEED program delivery system: CREATE is FEED’s job skills training program, SEEK provides affordable access to its shared-use kitchen for food entrepreneurs, FEED is a living wage job creator providing on the job training through our production kitchen and catering programs, and providing assistance to SEEK tenants.
In 2018, FEED launched a social enterprise that reflects our core principle of creating economic opportunity through our programs to break the poverty cycle using food as our fuel. FEED product and produce sales will create the sustainable funding foundation that enables FEED to pay a living wage to the CREATE graduates hired to work in FEED Enterprises.
Hunger Outreach Network (HON)
The Hunger Outreach Network (HON) provides resources to over 40 independently run food assistance programs. HON offers funding opportunities, distributes healthy food at no cost, and hosts a forum that fosters collaboration. FEED has distributed over fifty thousand dollars of meals, healthy produce, and rescued produce to the HON in the last 8 months.
Culinary Careers Training Program (CREATE)
CREATE is a 10-week culinary careers training program operating four days per week for four hours per day. Students learn a wide range of culinary techniques including knife skills, protein fabrication, baking, front and back of house management, and food safety. Students also learn ServSafe practices in preparation for the Food Manager or Food Handler certificate exam administered at the end of the course. Graduated students are then connected with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurial training.
Salt of the Earth Enterprise Kitchen (SEEK)
Salt of the Earth Enterprise Kitchen (SEEK) is an incubator kitchen program that provides an affordable commercial space to new and aspiring food businesses.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can rent this space at relatively low cost to develop proof of concept without assuming the substantial overhead of a five or six-figure loan to start their business. SEEK focuses on serving systemically marginalized populations, particularly women, BIPOC, veterans, and formerly incarcerated people to address inequities in the food business economy.