Economic Viability of Shared-Use Kitchens in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $135,819.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Rhonda Phillips
Purdue University
Jodee Ellett
Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, Food processing, shared-use kitchens, food entrepreneurship


    A shared-use kitchen is a licensed and inspected food processing facility for the production of value-added products, a service that could otherwise be inaccessible for many farmers and food entrepreneurs. Commercial kitchens can save producers and food entrepreneurs from investing in costly equipment to start or run a food business and preserve the season’s harvest to provide additional off-season income. Driven by the increasing demand for locally produced food, shared-use or community kitchens could be considered as an opportunity to support regional food systems and help small farms and local ventures be profitable and thus viable. Their broader impact lies in the development of stronger connections between local producers and consumers, further increasing sales and availability of locally grown food.

    Focusing on existing community kitchens, we will evaluate current successful models and design a toolkit for new and existing kitchens, farmers, non-profits, small businesses and others to navigate equipment needs and costs; regulations; return on investment and market potential for products and kitchen use. We will organize visits to existing kitchens with community partners and perform an economic analysis of kitchen viability and the economic contribution on various sectors of the economy.

    Project objectives:

    This project involves a two part survey to inform different research objectives, development of an educational toolkit and outreach events and resources to foster learning, collaboration and network development around shared-kitchens in Indiana.

    Objective 1: Understand more about shared-kitchens including models, business success, social missions, demographics, funding sources and success. We proposed to survey kitchen owners and managers in the North Central Region to learn more about what they are doing, how they self-identify, why they exist in that location and if they are successful.

    Objective 2: Analyze the economic contribution of shared-use kitchens to sectors on the local economy using IMPLAN input/output economic modelling software. We proposed to survey kitchen owners and managers to learn more about where they spend money and how profitable they are to estimate how much they contribute to the local economy.

    Objective 3: Engage regional kitchen owners to host tours for farmers, food businesses, technical assistance providers. We arranged three bus tours to nine kitchens in four states to offer peer to peer learning and a firsthand look at the operation and management of different models of shared-use kitchens.

    Objective 4: Using the information gained from our site visits, we proposed to create a Shared-Kitchen Toolkit for people who are interested in starting or managing a shared kitchen and the for the organizations who provide technical assistance. We worked with The Food Corridor and Fruition Planning and Management to write and publish a manual that will inform multiple audiences about shared-use kitchen development, management and sustainability.

    Objective 5: Create additional outreach materials and opportunities to inform stakeholders of shared kitchen development and management.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.