Changes are happening within the Columbia Pike-based nonprofit La Cocina VA.
Since its inception in 2014, the nonprofit has provided culinary job training to Spanish-speaking immigrants and donated the meals made by trainees to people in low-income housing and shelters.
Over time, it widened its focus to help immigrants, refugees and unhoused people from all backgrounds. Founder Paty Funegra tells ARLnow the nonprofit was renamed Kitchen of Purpose last month to recognize that shift formally. She also gave a heads-up of some other changes slated for the new year.
Kitchen of Purpose will be putting an $80,000 grant from longtime supporter Bank of America to use to address food insecurity and support workforce development. Meanwhile, the nonprofit will be updating the menu and adding outdoor seating to the café it operates out of its facility at 918 S. Lincoln Street in a bid to attract new customers. Kitchen of Purpose moved into the facility in 2020.
Funegra says the name change was a years-long process that wrapped up last month.
“It didn’t take too long until we had applicants to our program from other ethnicities, immigrants from other places, Americans who speak good English who were interested in food service as career opportunities,” she said.
While La Cocina VA began offering classes in English by 2018, “we were always labeled as ‘La Cocina only serves the Hispanic community,'” Funegra said.
She says many of Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European descent — mostly women — have applied to Kitchen of Purpose’s small business incubator program.
“They already utilize food as not only a way of gathering families, but creating something,” she said.
Bank of America’s $80,000 grant will increase the number of meals Kitchen of Purpose can provide to people in affordable housing and homeless shelters, to senior residents and public schools children during the summer. A portion will support the nonprofit’s workforce development program that helps unemployed people get jobs and training in food service and hospitality.
“It definitely is a large contribution,” she said. “We project this is around 10,000 meals that we can provide our clients, using part of this grant.”
With the new name comes a “relaunch” of the café on S. Lincoln Street, which doubles as an incubator for other restaurants, including RAMMY-nominated fried chicken spot Queen Mother’s.
Starting in February, customers can order from the new food menu, with international flavors, Sunday brunch, plus beer, wine and cocktails. The interior will be redesigned and, by the spring, there should be outdoor seating.
“We want to bring more attention to the café,” Funegra said. “Like any other establishment, we’re surviving the pandemic… Some people know about us, but we want to come out with a new look, new name and new personnel to bring clients and raise awareness about us.”
It’s a far cry from where she started: a 167-square-foot kitchen in a church basement. To help small business owners make similar kinds of moves, she says in the near future she wants to provide microloans. That way, they can start building credit and eventually qualify for bigger loans.
“They have the talent, knowledge and passion, but because of their condition, they face barriers to obtain a small seed capital loan,” she said. “We’re exploring opportunities to create a fund that would allow us to inject capital — $5,000 to $10,000 loans — to these entrepreneurs so they can start generating business.”
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Battle Brewing Over Broyhill — “The 70-year-old hilltop mansion built by area home builder M.T. Broyhill is set to be torn down, the News-Press has confirmed. The required signage for…
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Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
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Synetic Theater Camps are a wildly fun, highly accessible choice for young people who love moving, playing games, and making memories. Registration is open now for Summer Camps (sessions June 20-August 25) and there are even a few spots left for Spring Break camp, April 3-7.
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WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and
District 27 Toastmasters 2023 Virtual Conference
District 27 Toastmasters invites you to its annual conference where you can hear phenomenal speakers, attend professional development and personal growth seminars about leadership, negotiation, communication, teamwork, and mentorship. Learn how to develop your personal story and how to improve