AOA Startup Grant 2018

Gourmet baby food

Shana Lewis

Locally made, gourmet baby food

My name is Shana Lewis and I have lived in the Albany Area for over 10 years.  I worked as a school counselor for 4 years before becoming a full time stay at home mom for my son who is now a year old. My husband and I are avid cooks and we enjoy the recent trend of eating local sustainable foods or as it has been called "farm to table".  For the last several years we have been members of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) by which we receive weekly vegetables from a local farm. So it was natural that when my son, Danny, was old enough to start eating solid foods that I would prepare purees at home for him using these vegetables. There were times of course, out of necessity, I would need to buy jarred baby food. I started to notice that the prepared foods available to him were limited in variety and flavor. I began to speak to other moms that agreed. That is when I decided that there was a gap in the market for flavorful, local, gourmet baby food.

I would like to start a small scale baby food company to reach out to parents that would like to provide their children with nutritious, local, and flavorful food. The name of the company would be Farm to Cradle. Because of the current trend in childhood obesity in this country, it is important to shape our children's palates from a young age and provide them with the healthiest start to life. So instead of the simple pureed carrots, I would provide foods like roasted carrots with garlic and ginger. There are many parents that do not have the luxury of staying at home during their children's first years and providing them with homemade baby food. I would like to provide those parents with the ability to give their children locally produced flavorful foods.  I believe that I should get funding because I would be using local products and helping to provide a service that does not exist in the Albany area.

I'm in the final planning stages of this project and would use the funding to make my dream of local gourmet baby food a reality. I have spoken with local farmers about purchasing their vegetables and have done a tremendous amount of research on processing practices; I've also developed a number of delicious recipes.  The funding that you provide would allow me to purchase local produce, rent space in an industrial kitchen, process, package, and create Farm to Cradle baby food.

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