As we are all too aware, COVID-19 has upended our region— leaving so many individuals, organizations, and communities vulnerable, and looking for a new path forward. Alchemist CDC was founded to respond to community needs, and we are proud to rise to the occasion. We stand with many other nonprofits in Sacramento, working to pivot, collaborate, and leverage our strengths and resources to meet emerging needs.

Below are some updates about what we’ve been up to in the past few weeks, and what we’re planning for in the months ahead. We are committed to innovating through the uncertain times before us, making health and hope possible in the spaces where we work.

Food Access: CalFresh at Farmers Markets

Alchemist CDC is on the front lines of food access and farmer support through our farmers markets programs, ensuring that our region’s markets are accessible to all. In response to COVID-19, we’re:

  • Continuing to facilitate CalFresh and Market Match, keeping our customers and team as safe as possible by adding protective equipment to our booth.
  • Sponsoring Food for Families 95820, which is working to get local produce onto the dinner tables of local community members.
  • Working with the Mayor’s office and a group of other grassroots food access nonprofits that deliver services to Sacramento families. We are combining expertise and mobilizing efforts to coordinate resources to meet emerging community needs.
  • Transitioning our market interns to be paid employees, in recognition that they have taken on increased responsibilities and risk to provide an essential service to the region. Big thanks to NextGen Policy, who sponsored three months pay for these essential workers!
  • Planning ahead for possible ramifications of the pandemic, including market closures and a surge in CalFresh households. We’re in touch with famers and the community to understand their needs and priorities, and will innovate to continue connecting CalFresh households to farm-fresh food amidst changing circumstances.

RESOURCES:

  • For farmers: to get connected with resources for setting up EBT processing at your farm stand, contact Emma at emma@alchemistcdc.org
  • For Calfresh customers: with questions about your CalFresh benefits, or for CalFresh enrollment assistance, please contact Charlie at
    calfresh@alchemistcdc.org

Economic Development: Alchemy Kitchen

Although it’s currently a tough market for food businesses, the possibility of entrepreneurship is promising for so many experiencing economic instability. Our Alchemy Kitchen programming carries on, and offers a source of purpose and hope for participants. And it turns out, business planning can be a fun and productive quarantine activity! To adapt in the crisis, we’re:

  • Continuing our spring cohort of Alchemist Microenterprise Academy fully online. This includes the regular twelve-week curriculum, business plan work sessions, Chef Dave’s Culinary Skills Bootcamp, and the Graduation Ceremony and Showcase Event.
  • Creating virtual options to build community, as past participants shared that in-class collaboration and network-building was a vital takeaway from the program.
  • Guiding our first three incubator participants through the next phases of business development. These entrepreneurs have taken the changing circumstances in stride, and are currently using quarantine to work on their business plans and obtain permits. In the months ahead we will continue to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities brought by this pandemic.
  • Planning for the future. We’re reaching out to past, current and future AMA participants to understand their needs, and how we can adapt our programming to best support these entrepreneurs. We’re also collaborating with other food business incubators around the country to learn about their responses. Another big thanks to JPMorgan Chase, who recently pledged $25,000 to Alchemy Kitchen! We’re grateful for their continued support.

RESOURCES:

  • For entrepreneurs looking to learn more about starting a food business: Complete our Alchemist Microenterprise Academy interest form to be added to our update list.
  • For existing food businesses looking for support: Please fill out our needs assessment, which will guide pivots in our work. We’ll also add you to an alert list for resources and workshops.
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