Thursday, August 26, 2010

EDITORIAL: More Thinking Needs To Be Done for Socorro’s Community Kitchen

Just Thinking Out Loud
By Gary Jaramillo

It’s a real shame that the Community Kitchen has turned out to be the exact opposite of what it should have been.
And that is, a place that everyone could afford to use in order to bake and cook wonderful things that they could sell for others’ enjoyment and also help feed their families by their labor and earnings in using the neat little Community Kitchen.
Turns out so far that this so-called Community Kitchen is only for those that can afford cooking there and really don’t need any kind of help making ends meet in the first place.
The fees are ridiculous and quite totally out of the reach of those who desperately need a place like the kitchen to sell their baked or cooked goods to make that extra money to help themselves and their families, and maybe build enough business to open their own establishment in the future.
Perhaps those advertising this kitchen that everyone was supposed to use to cook in and actually have a way to bring a little more income in, should have waited before announcing that it would indeed be available to everyone.
The only people qualified to use the kitchen are those who have no problem coming up with anywhere between $350 or more, plus extra ridiculous hourly rates and fees.
My only question would be – if the kitchen has already been licensed by the state food service offices, why should the participants of the program be forced to fill out tons of unnecessary applications when they are not owners, but simply potential users of the kitchen already licensed by the state to bake, cook, serve and sell food?
And to top it all off, users of the kitchen are expected to buy a $300,000 liability insurance policy and apply for a $200 New Mexico State Food Service Establishment License. And why would the renters of the kitchen be charged by the hour to cook and store things over night, and then add insult to injury and make them pay other membership fees to the Farmers Market.
A key and cleaning deposit along with a $25 city business license, okay, but I have a feeling that the people who had this great idea in the first place just got plain run over by others who didn’t really think this thing through all the way.
When you leave the majority of people out who really and truly do need something like this kitchen, but can’t afford it, it’s just another lost cause with all kinds of potential slowly running down the kitchen sink drain.
Bottom line? This great but inaccessible community kitchen should be used by everyone who needs it, and no one should be purposely or inadvertently discriminated against because they can’t afford to do what others with money can easily accomplish. It just sends the wrong message when anyone is left out of the equation because of cost, and at the current prices, it’s simply impossible for anyone who really needs it, to ever use it.
I’m no scholar folks, but I’ll bet that 97 percent of my neighbors in Socorro could’ve come up with a better way of working this community kitchen idea out while standing on their heads. It’s an absolutely wonderful idea with unlimited potential, but it will never work for everyone, if everyone is not included in its future plans.
I want to congratulate Manager Al Smoake and everyone else for their hard work and hope that the reasons for this kitchen are revisited and changes are made to really and truly include everyone who can make it become something very special, without money being it’s only driving force.
Wouldn’t it be super if there was a much lower price to participate in the kitchen for those with growing culinary aspirations and those with expertise? Please, powers that be – ya gotta re-think this thing.

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