Last year, the board of directors at Mel Trotter Ministries
affirmed that by 2030, 70% of its income would come from social enterprises, according to Michele McIsaac, chief strategy officer.
McIsaac began strategizing how the organization could become more self-sustainable and less reliant on charitable gifts.
“We looked at what we were already doing that we’re good at,” says McIsaac.
In January 2021, they came across Virtual Dining Concepts
, which develops delivery-only restaurant concepts that can be placed in existing restaurants to maximize profit. Many of the restaurant concepts are in partnership with brands or celebrities such as Mario Lopez, DJ Pauly D and Tyga. Already having a kitchen, which prepares and serves 300 to 600 meals per day, this was intriguing.
In addition to providing food, Mel Trotter offers shelter and development to battle homelessness. In 2020, not only were 111,247 meals served to those facing hunger, but the organization helped 246 individuals secure employment as well as 70 families and 195 individuals find stable housing, according to its 2020 annual report
In June 2021, Mel Trotter turned its current kitchen into a social enterprise. The Kitchen @ 40 Cherry
not only prepares and serves three meals per day to those in need, but also prepares meals for Mariah's Cookies — launched by Mariah Carey — and NASCAR Refuel, both restaurants through Virtual Dining Concepts.
Customers order through the concept’s website or delivery apps, The Kitchen @ 40 Cherry prepares the meals, and a third party delivers them. All marketing and concept development is taken care of by Virtual Dining Concepts.
“Our primary goal with the virtual side is to generate income that will help pay for all of the costs associated with meal service on the Mel Trotter side,” says McIsaac.
These costs include staffing, utilities and the costs of running The Kitchen.
“And so far it's going very very well,” says McIsaac. “We're excited about the prospects moving forward.”
“We are already starting to see revenues that begin to help feed people at Mel Trotter.”