Drexel Food Lab and City of Philadelphia Assist Food Businesses, Grow ‘Good Food’ Economy

Drexel University's Food Lab and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health have introduced the Good Food Accelerator, a pilot program for Philadelphia-area food businesses and co-packers. Image credit, clockwise from top left: Authentic Ethnic Cuisine, Honeysuckle Projects, TRIBU, Sate Kampar.

The demand for healthy, sustainable, local food has never been greater. Drexel Food Lab, the culinary innovation lab within Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, continues to meet the opportunity head on, in partnership with Philadelphia Department of Public Health Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. Together, the Food Lab and the Health Department will introduce the Good Food Accelerator, a pilot program for Philadelphia-area businesses and co-packers.

A technical assistance grant, the Good Food Accelerator will support small, local businesses and one co-packer in accelerating “good food” products to market, with specific support for those promoting good food values such as nutrition, sustainability, fair labor practices, local economic investment and supporting communities most negatively impacted by inequities in the food system.

Inspired by previous work with the Health Department, the Good Food Accelerator program awardees will receive support with product development and refinement, nutritional analysis, product testing, co-packer identification, as well as other food manufacturing and commercialization needs.

“After finding success in previous projects together, we are excited to work with the Health Department for this latest program that will grow the ‘good food’ economy in Philadelphia,” said Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, a professor in the College and director of the Drexel Food Lab. “Good food is a staple of the Drexel Food Lab, which applies culinary arts and science to improve the health of people, the planet and economies through research and programming that help the lab understand consumers, develop new food products and introduce new products to market.”

“So many of the problems that we face in Philadelphia can be ameliorated by investing in our communities,” said Cheryl Bettigole, MD, commissioner of the Health Department. “Through partnerships like the Good Food Accelerator, we can not only invest in the people and good ideas already in the community, but we can work to bring healthy, local foods to more people. This is a win-win effort. We’re excited to participate in this effort with good partners like the Drexel Food Lab.”

“Food lab’s record in creating sustainable food innovations and their collaboration with Drexel Solutions Institute & researchers across campus brings valuable resources to this partnership with the Health Department.  It will make the sum greater than its parts,” said Raj Suri, PhD, interim senior vice provost for Academic Industry Partnerships at Drexel.

The inaugural cohort of the Good Food Accelerator program comprises three food businesses and one co-packer:

TRIBU, owned by Mia Ormes-Dalton, a Drexel alumna, is a food business that provides health-supportive meals and full circle fertility, prenatal and postpartum nutritional support with nutrient-dense soups, stews, broths and bites. The Good Food Accelerator program will assist with preparation of three soups for retail by helping to refine the recipe formulas, nutritional analyses, as well as recommendations for equipment, storage and packaging.

Authentic Ethnic Cuisine, owned by Arthur Browne, is a business that provides a cultural experience through food. The Good Food Accelerator program will assist with refining the recipe formulas for four product variations, including a reduced sodium formula, along with market research and recommendations for a direct-to-consumer version of Grama Jane’s Jollof Rice, a West African style seasoned, tomato-based rice.

Sate Kampar, owned by Angelina “Ange” Branca, is a food business that improves access to more flavors and foods from immigrant communities, including Ange’s own Southeast Asian community. The Good Food Accelerator program will assist with market research and optimize a recipe formula for Southeast Asian condiments and sauces.

The co-packer, Honeysuckle Projects, owned by Omar Tate and Cybille St. Aude-Tate, is an evolving network of community spaces centered around the values of nourishment and reclamation that celebrates Black and Afro-centric food traditions and enables the village to thrive together. Honeysuckle Projects currently sells meal boxes which include various items such as sweet potato English muffins, loaf sandwich bread, deli turkey and sausage, as well as condiments, fresh produce and protein from local farmers and producers. The Good Food Accelerator program will assist in bringing to market two “good food” products developed by Drexel Food Lab – a healthier, blended breakfast sausage and a protein-powered ranch dressing, as well as scaling up additional menu items.

For more information about the Drexel Food Lab, visit the Food Lab website.