Story by Carrie Beth Wallace
Images courtesy of The Food Mill
Q: Why is it important to you to participate in Restaurant Week this year?
A: Now more than ever with all of the challenges independent restaurants have faced over the last few months, Restaurant Week and the additional marketing and exposure it gives to our restaurant community is key to helping us continue to keep our doors open. We are so appreciative of how all of the sponsors have stepped up to help support this industry and realize the importance of the long term success of independent restaurants and how that is vital to our local economy.
Q: How is Bare Roots mitigating the challenges of the COVD-19 crisis?
A: We have really had to make some tough decisions but in those decisions there has been a silver lining in a sense with being able to respond to the needs of our community. Our 12th Street location is still closed but we are working on an opportunity for it to reopen in the future. The 2nd Avenue location, which was focused on catering is now in the process of transitioning into a non-profit called The Food Mill. This is a project that has been in the works for quite some time, it just looks a little different now due to the COVID-19 crisis. We are very excited about this transition though and how the community will be able to benefit from it.
Q: What is the Food Mill? When will it open?
A: We are still working on finalizing all of the legalities of the transition but we are aiming for the first of August to be operating as The Food Mill. The Food Mill is a nonprofit organization that operates as a multifunctional food farmacy that works to eliminate barriers and solve issues that lead to food insecurity in our community. The North Highland Community of Bibb City, which has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in Columbus, is a specific focus area for The Food Mill. The Food Mill connects Columbus residents with farm-fresh locally sourced food by supporting and collaborating with existing health minded organizations.
The Food Mill will offer a brand of medically tailored meals named Healing Roots Meals in partnership with Mercy Med of Columbus and Feeding the Valley to assist patients with diet related illnesses in having access to the proper nutrition they need for their specific illness. These meals will also be made available for the general public to purchase in addition to nutritional counseling and dietitian services to help subsidize the meals for our neighbors who can not afford them. The Food Mill will house a shared kitchen space that will be available for food entrepreneurs to rent on an hourly basis as well as operate as an incubator space for participants in Open Door's Culinary program in early 2021. The incubator program is an extension to their culinary training that will continue to nurture their culinary talent and help build their entrepreneurial skills if they are pursuing their own food based business after graduating from the program.
The Food Mill Cafe will be open six days a week and will serve breakfast, lunch, offer catering services, private dinners, prepared meals and family meals. The revenue generated from the cafe and our Buy 2 Give 1 program helps us to provide healthy food to families who are faced with food insecurity. Right next door to the cafe there will be a local farmer's market/food hub in partnership with Beyond Harvest Foods, a local food distributor in our community. Beyond Harvest Foods has set up a partnership with Wholesome Wave of Georgia that will allow our residents to use their SNAP benefits to purchase fresh local produce and food. Wholesome Wave bridges the gap and provides the funding for the farmers to receive full market price while our North Highland community that is currently a food desert, will have daily access to a farmer's market where they can use their SNAP benefits. A definite win-win for everyone involved.
Q: How can our community help to support your work in the non-profit sector?
A: Come and visit us at The Food Mill Cafe and the Beyond Harvest Farmers Market. The success of our programs within the community are tied to the success of both of these businesses. We are working on grant funding on a local and national level as well as private community support but in addition to that we want to serve you a great, locally sourced meal in a spot where you can also shop for your local produce, meats, dairy items and breads. Collaboration is important to The Food Mill, and we truly believe that our community is stronger when we work together.
If you'd like to learn more, partner with us, or make a donation, please contact Olivia Amos at TheFoodMillColumbus@gmail.com. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities we can certainly plug you here at The Food Mill or connect you with one of our amazing partners, MercyMed, Columbus Botanical Gardens, MercyMed Farm, Open Door Community House and Feeding the Valley.
Q: What are some other things you’d like our audience to know?
A: Go out and support all of Columbus's amazing restaurants this week! We have made huge strides in our culinary scene over the last five to ten years and that is directly due to the support of our community. We don't want to lose any of that momentum! Thanks to Yalla and all of the sponsors, despite the challenge of the COVID crisis they have made it happen for us to still be able to celebrate the great food our city has to offer. ◼︎
Watch the video below to see Amos' interview with The Georgia Foodcast where she talks more about how The Food Mill will impact our community.