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

2016 Annual Report for LNC15-374

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

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


Our group of collaborators on this project include the following personnel from Purdue University:

Dr. Rhonda Phillips, Dean of the Purdue Honors College and faculty lead, Local Food Program

Dr. Maria Marshall, Professor, Agricultural Economics

Tomoko Hiramatsu, Masters’ Degree student, Agricultural Economics

Tanya Hall, Purdue Extension Community Development Regional Educator

Jodee Ellett, Purdue Extension Local Foods Coordinator


Our work from October 2015-March 2017 was devoted to six major tasks:

  1. Comprehensive literature review on shared-use kitchen business models, success measurements, and community relevance.
  2. Series of seven phone-based facilitated meetings of shared-kitchen owners/managers and developers to learn more about challenges, successes and creative solutions.
  3. Collect, check and test kitchen email and contact information. We have a database of 359 contacts for our survey instrument.
  4. Create two part survey for shared-use kitchen managers and owners.
  5. Distribution of survey instrument to database, through eXtension Community, Local and Regional Food Systems Community of Practice, North Central (and national) Extension Colleagues, The Food Corridor and Ashley Colpart and Good Greens listserve maintained by the Chicago area FNS office (Alan Shannon).
  6. Planning and outreach for four kitchen tours (scheduled 30 March-7 May 2017).

Our remaining work on the project will involve the following:

  1. Four tours to shared-use kitchens to tour and conduct in-person interviews of kitchen owners.
  2. Monitor survey instrument and ensure we are receiving enough high-quality answers to perform our analyses and IMPLAN modelling.
  3. Summarize data from survey results and conduct IMPLAN modelling.
  4. Create online toolkit with supporting videos.
  5. Engage kitchen owners/managers in meaningful webinars and workshops to distribute project outputs and research information.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Tomoko Hiramatsu and Dr. Maria Marshall worked on a literature review and created a table [Findings2015Fall_Hiramatsu] to demonstrate where current research exists in relation to our project. Information such as business models, measurements for their success and the importance of their activity to local community were part of the outline. This information was used to inform phase 1 of the survey instrument where we will learn more about kitchen characteristics and owner demographics.

A critical component of the SARE grant is to understand the economic impact of shared use kitchens. In order to conduct the analysis, Tanya Hall worked to conceptualize the process of how to gather the necessary information and determination of what information to gather entailed the use of research and learning best practices to use for this grant. A specific target has not been identified as an economic impact analysis can be done on one single response – yet given the scope of the study, we’d like to see several responses from each state represented in the North Central region with varying features – rural/urban location, kitchen type, scale of kitchen and other features. After undergoing these steps, the survey was developed to capture the data needed for the analysis. It was peer reviewed by another frequent economic impact analysis researcher, piloted and is now deployed, using the 359 kitchen contacts gathered from online, through contact with Extension colleagues. See the survey: Final_Qualtrics Survey_Shared_Use_Kitchen.

To summarize our current objectives in relation to our project timeline, we have edited the proposed chart [07MAR17 ObjectivesTable].


Collecting, communicating and collaborating with Extension colleagues and kitchen owners at the regional and national level is an accomplishment. In addition to our effort, Ashley Colpart, PhD candidate at Colorado State University (Advisor Dr. Dawn Thilmany) has created The Food Corridor, a private for-profit software business for kitchens to purchase and use for scheduling and billing. As a result of this effort, Ashley has also launched, The NICK, Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens. In our discussions with Ashley and in relation to our proposed interest in making our results widely available, we are working with them on having the toolkit from this SARE project reside online on their website. We have a shared interest in helping kitchens access relevant, useful, usable information to ensure they remain viable and are implementing best practices for development, management and outreach.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are poised to learn about the economic impact of kitchens on a community and successful models of kitchens and their practices that may contribute to their success. In addition, we are able to partner with a robust start-up, The Food Corridor, to disseminate research results and best practices for kitchen owners in an online platform. This business did not exist when we began our project and we have learned that this is a topic area of need and are receiving very positive feedback from the Extension and broader food community. It is our goal to ensure that the project provides excellent information that can be used by many, and to disseminate the results widely.