Fresh food at the corner store
By Marcus Wright
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — “We work to raise the standards of quality of healthiness in grab-and-go food options throughout the city of Detroit,” Valaurian Waller said of Fresh Corner Café (FCC), a company in which she is a partner with Noam Kimelman.
Waller said FCC is a fresh food delivery service that partners with local restaurants and food producers to provide fresh and healthy pre-packaged meals to liquor stores, gas stations, small grocers, cafes and corporate offices throughout the city. She said wholesale purchasing and a cross-subsidization model that charges higher prices to those who can afford them allows FCC to provide affordable and high-quality café experiences in underserved areas throughout the city while strengthening the local food system. “We have 21 retail locations — mostly on the west side — but plan to double that number by August,” Waller said. “We’re targeting the east side.”
Originally named Get Fresh Detroit, founder Kimelman packaged produce for soups and quickly discovered people were more interest in pre-packaged meals. That was in 2009.
Waller said demand has increased to the point where more production space is needed to keep pace with sales. A restaurant in the New Center area, Lunch Time Detroit, prepares, packages and labels the meals for distribution. There are four people involved in the distribution process, Waller said. She and Kimelman market and sell the products and they have two drivers. “They deliver two to three times a week to make sure our product is fresh,” Waller said.
Waller said retailers’ reaction was difficult in the beginning but has become a lot easier since FCC has established a good reputation. “We’re not trying to shove healthy eating down anyone’s throat,” Waller said. “We’re trying to make it available and optional, especially when markets are not located in the area.”
FCC plans to expand its product line. “We can’t expect people to keep eating the same thing,” says Waller. “Of course, we’ll keep our production local and our partners local.”
FCC moved the beginning of this year into the Green Garage in Midtown, securing a small office space. It also began to work with local high school students, Detroit Youth Food Brigade, to help them explore both education and employment opportunities.
Waller said the Detroit Youth Food Brigade is a youth entrepreneur training program bringing locally prepared foods to neighborhood markets throughout the city. The Food Brigade is teaching future leaders to harness their passions and leverage their strengths in shaping a healthier, brighter and stronger tomorrow.
“The Brigade is 20 entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 20 who’ve joined forces to create 10 talented teams,” he said. “Each team partners with a local food producer or restaurant in a five-day-a-week intern-mentor relationship. Some of our incredible partners include Sweet Potato Sensations, Harmonie Garden, Fresh Corner Cafe, Peaches & Greens, 4 Corners Bistro, Slow Jams, Detroit Popcorn Company, For Goodness Sake and Corridor Sausage.”
FCC’s office is locatedat 4444 Second St. For more information, call 313.444.5027 or visit facebook.comfreshcornercafe
Contact Marcus Wright at email@example.com
Photo Courtesy of Fresh Corner Cafe