Thursday, August 26, 2010

Socorro Community Kitchen Up and Running

By John Larson

SOCORRO -- The Community Kitchen in Finley Gym has been up and operating for a couple of months, and Al Smoake of A&J Family Farms said those using it are happy with the facility.
“Things are going very, very well,” said Smoake, who oversees management of the kitchen. “We use it on a regular basis for our jellies. John Morrison is baking bread for the Farmers Market, and this last weekend it was rented by the Storehouse to make burritos for the community yard sale.
“We were checking with some of them and they said it is so nice to have an upscale kitchen in this community.”
He said a Girl Scout group and a 4-H group is also using it, and another resident is using it for processing and packaging chile. “We also have people wanting to start a catering business,” Smoake said rules concerning the usage of the kitchen were finalized at a meeting earlier this month.
“We do not allow deep frying because of grease and safety issues. But you can pan fry things.”
“The only limitations we have are because we don’t have a lot of equipment yet,” he said.
Other rules involve the pricing and fee schedules.
“There will be certain fees and permits needed before you can use the facility. You just can’t go in and cook something that tastes good,” Smoake said. “Originally we thought it could be used for people with home-based permits.”
To use the kitchen a person needs to be a member, which is $25 per year, and there are hourly fees.
“The hourly fee depends on how many hours it will be used. $4 per hour, or $2 an hour for six hours, and $20 for a full day. Compare that with a commercial kitchen in Albuquerque which is about $13 an hour,” he said.
“It’s best if they talk with me first to find out how to go about getting the permits. A lot depends on what they want to do,” he said. “If they’re going to sell something they must go through the state Environmental Department.”
“If it’s for a personal use, then a different kind of scale.”
The application for membership includes a $100 cleaning and key deposit.
“For processing food the permit issued by the New Mexico Environmental Department is $200 per year. The inspector, Jerry Ford, will come in and inspect while you are cooking or preparing your food,” Smoake said. “He stayed with us about four or five hours while we were using the kitchen. He’s good about working with people.”
He said the costs can be reduced if people applied as a group.
“Say, if a group of people get together and form a corporation or LCC, his would several people to use it,” Smoake said. “If you wanted to bake fruit pies and a neighbor wanted to make salsa, and somebody else wanted to can vegetables they can form a corporation, which would make it less expensive on each person.”
Temporary permits are available for those who do not use the kitchen regularly.
“With a temporary permit there is no charge. For example the Storehouse used a temporary permit,” Smoake said. “The same goes for Girl Scouts who came in to make dinner for their families. No charge.”
He said a minimum of $300,000 product liability insurance policy is also required for food processing.

No comments:

Post a Comment