Project Feast just completed its first year as an organization! As we head into 2014, I wanted to share some highlights from last year with you.
As many of you know, the idea for Project Feast came about in the summer of 2012 just in time for the Fast Pitch competition application deadline. Fast Pitch is a competition sponsored by Social Venture Partners for nonprofit and for-profit organizations that are created around positive social change. I was encouraged to apply by Kevin Owyang, who was in my Office Nomads cooking club and who was volunteering for Fast Pitch. With just 2 days to go on the deadline, inspiration struck and I finally decided to apply using the inkling of an idea I had around empowering immigrant women through cooking, something they already knew how to do. As a name, the word “Feast” felt good as it invokes pictures of people having a great time around food (and adding “Project” meant that the URL was available). While Project Feast didn’t make it past the Fast Pitch Quarterfinals, there was lots of constructive feedback and encouragement to implement. Going through this process also made me realize that this was exactly what I was missing in my previous entrepreneurial experience – the social impact.
So in summer 2013, we applied again for the same competition. With an initial investment of less than $5000, we created an organization with lots of traction and real results to show. We helped more than 70 people get their food handler permits. 20 people went through our 6 week training program and many of them got hands on experience on our catering program. More than a 100 people in the greater Seattle community attended one of our cooking classes and more than 2000 guests partook of the food prepared by our catering program. We earned almost $30,000 in revenue helping us pay for costs while working towards our mission.
We made it all the way to the Fast Pitch finals and on Nov 13th, 2013, I pitched Project Feast to an audience of 600 people consisting of entrepreneurs, investors, nonprofit leaders, community members, and philanthropists. What a wonderful experience to be on stage and tell everyone about what we can do with refugees & food!
We are thrilled to report that Project Feast won the Nonprofit track and also received the award from the Women’s Funding Alliance. In addition, we received an audience award as well the Grow 50 award for free consulting services. It was a big night for us! This award money will help take us to the next level by helping us hire and pay for staff to grow the organization.
We were able to achieve these results through partnerships and collaboration. The Lutheran Community Services Northwest and YWCA at Greenbridge provided us space to do our classroom training as well as helping with outreach and translation. Crooked Trails became our fiscal sponsor enabling us to apply for grants and receive donations.
The Tukwila Community Center invited us to move into their amazing commercial kitchen space where our training, catering and cooking classes will now be based.
We have lots of plans and goals for 2014. We are actively looking for a Kitchen Manager / Instructor to help us grow our catering program. We have expanded our training program and plan to add an apprenticeship program. There is lots of work to do and we look forward to 2014 with excitement.Veena Prasad Executive Director