Culinary Education Program Transition
We are pleased to announce that beginning in June we will be transitioning culinary education programming to Healthy Roots Institute (HRI) under the leadership of founder Chef Lachelle Cunningham. “Transitioning our culinary education programming to Healthy Roots Institute marks an important milestone in our goal to realize a decentralized, community-based food system – one that is driven by collaboration and shared power, instead of consolidation,” says TGA Executive Director Theresa McCormick.
Since joining TGA’s team in 2019, Chef Lachelle has led dozens of farm to school focused culinary training sessions across the state, empowering trainees to develop their culinary skills and implement menu items that feature fresh, locally-grown produce. She also developed TGA’s vocational culinary training program (called VoCul) from the ground up. VoCul focuses on removing barriers to high-quality training opportunities and giving those looking for a career in culinary arts a head start through hands-on training and internships. Chef Lachelle has graduated four cohorts of students through the program since it began in 2020.
Of the transition, VoCul instructor and Founder of Transforming the Table, Jenny Breen, says “I have loved teaching with VoCul with Lachelle because we share a passion for healthy communities through food and believe in culinary careers as a part of a sustainable food system. I look forward to the evolution of VoCul as a force for important change and growth in the culinary space in the Twin Cities.”
Chef Lachelle founded the Healthy Roots Institute in 2018, with a mission focused on healing and social justice through food, culinary arts, and workforce development. “Building the VoCul program and now having it transition to HRI is a huge step in bringing my vision to fruition. I am thankful to the Cargill Foundation for their generous funding of this program and to The Good Acre for being an awesome place to launch this work.” says Chef Lachelle.
HRI and TGA share in the vision of working collaboratively toward an equitable local food system. We will continue our focus on access to infrastructure, supportive services, and market development for farmers and food makers. Going forward, HRI will be our preferred training partner for offering culinary training focused on scratch cooking with locally grown seasonal ingredients. “Working with Lachelle has been a true privilege. She brings vision, joy, and tenacity to every conversation – not to mention phenomenal food – and I am thrilled to continue working together in this new way,” says McCormick.
HRI is seeking additional partners to further strengthen its programming which is making a difference in the lives of program participants, as well as boosting the culinary workforce statewide. Chef Lachelle says “We are looking for partnerships with culinary-focused and/or workforce development organizations. Entrepreneurship and incubator projects would also make great partners, especially those with a focus on supporting equity in the food system as well as local sourcing and scratch cooking.” Those who are interested in partnering with HRI in this work are invited to fill out the contact form on the HRI website at bit.ly/ContactHRI. For those interested in learning more about VoCul, please visit bit.ly/VoCul and complete the interest form.
About Healthy Roots Institute
The Healthy Roots Institute’s mission is to impact the economy and local food system through food education for the community and workforce development for food entrepreneurs and businesses. Visit the Healthy Roots Institute website at HealthyRootsInstitute.com or follow them on Facebook & Instagram. Learn more about Chef Lachelle Cunningham at LachelleCunningham.com.
About The Good Acre
As the largest food hub in Minnesota, The Good Acre plays a critical role in creating market access for farmers and food makers. Over the past seven years, they have increased support for farm and food entrepreneurs to strengthen the food system across our region – and it is working. 2022 was their most impactful year yet, with $1.7 million dollars of local food purchased from local farmers and food makers through their food hub, including over $1 million spent with BIPOC farmers. Through one-on-one grower support services to local produce farmers, creating wholesale markets that pay an equitable price to farmers, and supporting small food businesses through their shared-use commercial kitchen, The Good Acre is realizing their mission to connect and strengthen farmers, food makers, and communities through good food.