Creating Pathways for Baltimore’s Food Entrepreneurs: Morgan State, City of Baltimore and Food & Society at the Aspen Institute Launch Open Access Baltimore
Baltimore Becomes Third City to Launch a New Web Portal Designed to Help Small Food Entrepreneurs Navigate Planning, Launching, and Growing Successful Businesses
BALTIMORE — Morgan State University, in partnership with the City of Baltimore, today released Open Access Baltimore, a free one-stop shop online portal for student and community food entrepreneurs to find and utilize local resources for capital, permitting and licensing, and training that will help them plan, launch, and grow their businesses in Baltimore. Baltimore now becomes the third city to release Open Access, following on the heels of Open Access DC and Open Access Philadelphia.
At Morgan, the initiative will be overseen as a collaboration between the School of Engineering and the School of Education and Urban Studies Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“Baltimore is a food city. However, historically some residents have faced barriers to entering the food entrepreneurial space. Morgan State is proud to help alleviate some of these barriers and host Open Access Baltimore” said Celeste Chavis, interim associate dean of Undergraduate Studies for the School of Engineering.
“Helping individuals to live life well is a universally desired outcome in present society, and programs like Open Access Baltimore can serve as a conduit to this goal, by leveraging the creativity of disenfranchised people in Baltimore and providing them with the resources to become entrepreneurs in the food industry,” said Jacqueline M. Holland, Ed.D., associate professor and chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Morgan. “The implementation and availability of targeted programs like Open Access will positively impact the city and the communities represented. The benefits will be transformative, empowering generations.”
Open Access Baltimore builds on the good work other cities have done to develop similar portals but like Washington, DC’s Open Access portal, it is unique in meeting the specific needs of food entrepreneurs and providing city-specific content for a wide range of food businesses and types. Morgan State has worked closely with the City of Baltimore’s Chief of Food Policy and Planning, Taylor LaFave, to ensure the content aligns with what is valuable and can effectively assist food entrepreneurs in the city.
“For generations, BIPOC food entrepreneurs have faced challenges accessing capital and navigating regulations in Baltimore,” said Taylor LaFave, Chief of Food Policy and Planning for the City of Baltimore. “The challenges that they face have increased over the past few years due to the pandemic and inflation. Open Access Baltimore streamlines processes and offers tools and resources to grow a sustainable food business. This project builds on Baltimore City’s history of innovative food systems work and helps create an equitable and resilient urban food system. We are thrilled to partner with Morgan State University and the Aspen Institute, and join our neighboring cities Washington, DC and Philadelphia, in launching Open Access Baltimore.”
Open Access Baltimore is a continuation of the Aspen Institute’s Food & Society Open Access Initiative. Recognizing that small, BIPOC food entrepreneurs often face a multitude of challenges to start or grow their food business, Open Access is a free, open source, one-stop shop, allowing individuals and those working with small businesses to access resources and sources of capital more easily from a single site. Anyone can view Open Access Baltimore on all digital devices at https://www.morgan.edu/open-access-bmore.
“Baltimore has a rich history of selling and making some of the best food in the country,” said Corby Kummer, executive director of Food & Society at the Aspen Institute. “And much of the city’s rich culture and business history is intimately intertwined with the BIPOC community. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the city and with one of the country’s leading HBCUs to launch Open Access Baltimore.”
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
About the Baltimore City Food Policy and Planning Division
The Food Policy and Planning Division (FPP) is led by the Food Policy Director, and staffed by a Food Access, a Food Resilience, and a Food Systems Planner. FPP oversees the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI), which has three pillars - interagency collaboration, the Food Policy Action Coalition (Food PAC), and Resident Food Equity Advisors (RFEA). In addition, FPP managed the City’s award-winning COIVD-19 Emergency Food Response, and currently oversees the City’s $11 million ARPA investment into its food system. Together, these efforts seek to build an equitable and resilient urban food system by addressing health, economic, and environmental disparities in areas that have high food insecurity. For more information, please visit planning.baltimorecity.gov/baltimore-food-policy-initiative.
About the Aspen Institute Food and Society Program
Food & Society at the Aspen Institute brings together leaders and decision-makers in the food and beverage industry and the public health community—scientists, nutritionists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food makers of all kinds—to find solutions to production, health, and communications challenges in the food system. The goal is for people of all income levels to eat better and more healthful diets—and to enjoy them bite by bite. For more information, please visit AspenInstitute.org/Food or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, New York, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.
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