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York Region Food Network

York Region Food Network (YRFN) was founded in 1986 to promote healthy eating within a sustainable and equitable food system. Among its varied programs are community gardens, a breakfast drop-in for low-income individuals, a low-cost monthly food box, hands-on healthy eating workshops, reclamation of wasted food from supermarkets and farms, and advocacy work towards accessible and sustainable food systems in the York region.

The Challenge

In 2012, YRFN renovated its office space, adding an on-site, commercial-grade kitchen. YRFN requested Endeavour’s services to assess the feasibility of using the kitchen as a business incubator, where healthy food entrepreneurs could test their recipes and launch new products without the high cost of investing in their own kitchen facilities.

Our Approach

Bringing together literature reviews, an environmental scan, and interviews with similar nonprofit organizations, the Endeavour team assessed the mission fit, financial and operational feasibility of five different uses for the kitchen: as a kitchen rental service, as a venue for both free and fee-for-service cooking classes, as a kitchen incubator, and as a catering company.

The Endeavour team also provided a detailed roadmap for launching the most recommended option—a kitchen rental service—including securing necessary certificates, insurance, safety precautions, advertising, and human resource needs.

The Outcome

With the guidance of the Endeavor roadmap, YRFN rented out the kitchen space and used it to host free cooking classes. The recommendation against the incubator kitchen and catering options were perceived as credible, and helped to close the door on what would have been supremely challenging endeavors. YRFN found the engagement helpful for answering important questions that they lacked the staff time to thoroughly consider and the environmental scan helped them to align themselves to other organizations with similar missions.

In 2016, YRFN returned for another Endeavour engagement to develop a three-year branding and marketing strategy. With solid recommendations coming out of the project, YRFN updated their website and logo, and adopted a new social media strategy. This new image attracted new followers on Facebook and Twitter, increasing their engagement and reach to the community.

“The team was excellent. There is a definite advantage in bringing together the different team members because they have such different perspectives. It’s also great to see the consultants learning too.”

“(Endeavour) was equal to or better than what we have paid for.”

“I was impressed with the report and the dedication of the team.”

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