Now locally-based food corporation Heinz has partnered with two organizations to give a boost to Black restaurant and small business owners in Pittsburgh.
The Black Kitchen Initiative, a brainchild of Heinz, Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice, and the LEE Initiative, seeks to connect 60 Black-owned restaurants across the country with tangible resources that “support the long-term health of their establishments,” according to a website for the program.
One local business receiving such support is CobblerWorld Baked Goods, a bakery that produces fruit cobbler, cakes, cheesecake, pies, and more. On the CobblerWorld website, owner Terina Hicks says she got her start in the kitchen watching her mother make popular dishes in Black households like peach cobbler.
Other Pittsburgh-area restaurants that received support from The Black Kitchen Initiative are Eminent Hospitality, Carmi Soul Food, Haitian Sensation, and Wings & a Prayer.
SRRJ is “a coalition of bakers, chefs, makers, and restaurant owners joined together to do the work to benefit black communities in the South,'' according to their website. They seek to raise financial resources for Black businesses in the food industry, especially those struggling due to pandemic-related factors.
The LEE, or Let’s Empower Employment, Initiative originated in Louisville, Kentucky in 2018. The program was started after its founders, Chef Edward Lee and Lindsey Ofcacek, saw a lack of diversity, training, and equality in the restaurants they worked in. During the pandemic, the LEE Initiative claims it distributed over 2 million meals to relief efforts around the country and gave over $1 million in grants to Black-owned food businesses.
“We have always been inspired by the work of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and were honored to be able to partner with HEINZ to support SRRJ’s goal of assisting Black-owned food businesses,” says LEE Initiative co-founder and managing director Lindsey Ofcacek in a press release.
The Black Kitchen Initiative is poised to help Black businesses survive and thrive through the trials of the pandemic, by providing not only financial support but other resources that help support the longevity of a business. You too can support these Pittsburgh businesses by frequenting them for your next dinner or when you have a sweet tooth.