Newsletter: Let Them Cook

News Date

To the surprise of no one, it was proven once again this Thanksgiving that I’m not much of a cook. The good news is that our region is full of hidden culinary creators who – with a little help from the County – are serving up everything from homemade latkes to handcrafted tamales right out of their homes. 

Today I want to highlight a County-enacted program that is helping our neighbors achieve their dreams, empower local entrepreneurs, and fill our stomachs. 

Helping Neighborhood Small Businesses Thrive

Last month my colleagues and I extended a new program that allows home chefs to operate out of their own kitchen. Initially launched last year, it supports things called MEHKOs – Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations – which are basically small-scale “mom and pop” restaurants. Under this program, aspiring local chefs can use their own kitchen to create and sell up to 60 meals per week. 

People were excited. Here’s how the Union-Tribune described the vote:

At this month’s supervisors meeting, nearly everyone who spoke during the public comment period — including many MEHKO operators — praised the program…

Many called it a “game changer” — reducing barriers by allowing some low-income residents to supplement their incomes, while providing others an opportunity to run a business without the overhead costs a traditional restaurant would require.

A game changer indeed: starting a food business is not easy, or cheap, and can be a hurdle too high for many San Diegans. This program gives them a fighting chance. 

This program is particularly helpful for underrepresented groups. More than half of MEHKOs are owned by women, and more than two-thirds are owned by minorities

The County Department of Environmental Health and Quality has issued dozens of permits since this time, and no community impacts (like parking, noise, or odors) have been reported.

From Solana Beach to Rancho Penasquitos to La Jolla, we have eight MEHKOs in District 3! Since this was first proposed by my colleagues Nora Vargas and Joel Anderson, MEHKOs have been offering a diverse array of cuisines from around the world including Japan, Egypt, Trinidad & Tobago, Italy, Indonesia, Mexico and America.

Are you an enterprising chef? Go here to learn more about the MEHKO program!

Small Business Stimulus

You don’t have to know your way around the kitchen for this next opportunity. Our District 3 office has grant money available for local small businesses!

Local small businesses and nonprofit entities that suffered economic losses due to COVID-19 may be eligible for grant funding from the County.

In 2021 I joined with Supervisor Anderson to propose The Small Business Stimulus Grant Program to help our region’s businesses navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic. The grant funding has already helped over 4,000 businesses keep their doors open, lights on, rents paid, and workers employed, and yours can be next! Apply today!

By the way, nonprofits may qualify for additional funding through the Community Enhancement Program. Check it out here!

Monday Meet & Greet!

Don’t forget, I’ll be at Miramar College on Monday, December 4 at 6 p.m for our Mira Mesa Meet and Greet. I hope to see you there!

In service,