- The overwhelming response to the first ‘Street Style Cook-Up’ initiative in Kingston earlier this year, sponsored by cooking gas company, Gas Products Limited (GASPRO), bodes well for other sections of the island.
- This unique project showcases the culinary talents of residents in targeted inner-city communities, deemed marginalized.
- The initiative was conceptualized to establish a platform that can help the participants to improve their lives through entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
The overwhelming response to the first ‘Street Style Cook-Up’ initiative in Kingston earlier this year, sponsored by cooking gas company, Gas Products Limited (GASPRO), bodes well for other sections of the island being targeted over the next four years.
This unique project, being implemented in partnership with the Community Renewal Programme (CRP) of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and other public and private sector stakeholders, showcases the culinary talents of residents in targeted inner-city communities, deemed marginalized.
The initiative was conceptualized to establish a platform that can help the participants to improve their lives through entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
A 10-year programme, the CRP is the Government’s coordinating mechanism for the effective and efficient delivery of social services in 100 of the island’s most volatile and vulnerable communities in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. James.
Being built on six pillars – Governance, Safety and Justice, Socio-Economic Development, Youth Development, Social Transformation, and Physical Transformation – the programme seeks to effectively address adverse occurrences, such as murder, volatility, low employment and literacy, among other things.
The end result is to achieve a change in the character of the community, thus providing long-term benefits to the residents.
The goal of the CRP is: ‘to see citizens in vulnerable and volatile areas empowered to live full and satisfied lives and contribute to the attainment of secure, cohesive, and just communities in healthy environments’. This is in line with the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica.
Its implementation is consistent with the Government’s job creation and economic development strategy, focusing on enhancing functional and harmonious relations between the State and civil society.
It is also seeking to push the administration’s improved security and safety strategic priority, thus preserving and enhancing a secure and protective environment to facilitate individual pursuits and economic/investment activities.
As was the case with the first ‘Street Style Cook-Up’ in Parade Gardens, Central Kingston, residents in other targeted communities will get an opportunity to demonstrate their food preparation skills in competition, while vying for attractive prizes.
Chief Strategic Planner, Carrington Morgan, who managed the project’s development and co-ordination on behalf of GASPRO, tells JIS News that the initiative evolved from the firm’s “eye-opening experience” of the positive response of residents of Parade Gardens/Southside to the entity’s activities in their community.
These formed part of ‘Restaurant Week 2013’, for which the firm was a major sponsor, and which the residents unreservedly embraced.
“They (GASPRO) were impressed with the residents’ response, and wanted to connect more with the community. They wanted to understand more about the people…in order to build a stronger relationship with them,” Mr. Morgan adds.
Consequently, the project was discussed and developed, with the participation of private and public sector entities and agencies, and the residents, through their Community Development Committee (CDC).
Mr. Morgan says the PIOJ was incorporated as a major partner, through the CRP, to ensure the sustainability of the project.
The CRP’s Socio-economic Development Technical Specialist, Charmaine Brimm, underscores the initiative’s importance and relevance, pointing out that “it is a true demonstration of public-private partnership and one which offers opportunities for beneficiaries, particularly in the area of entrepreneurship and employment creation.”
Ms. Brimm also highlights the inputs of other participating state agencies, such as the Ministry of Health, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), HEART Trust/NTA, and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD). They assist in areas, such as food preparation, business development planning, and acquiring food handlers’ permits, taxpayer registration number (TRN) and birth certificates.
These services will assist the beneficiaries to acquire key information and documentation, which are necessary in enabling them to further develop their businesses and ultimately, improve their standard of living.
Meanwhile, Mr. Morgan points out that entities, such as Pepsi-Cola Jamaica Limited, GraceKennedy Limited, Eve, H.D. Hopwood, Singer, and Azan Supercentre, which participated in the project’s initial staging, “really caught the bigger (long-term) vision” of ‘Street Style Cook-Up’.
“These are companies that GASPRO had already established a relationship with. So, when we outlined the plan to them, they quickly jumped on board,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Morgan hails the extent and significance of their inputs and those of others for the event in Parade Gardens/Southside, which he informs amounted to more than $6 million.
Other key participating stakeholders included: the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), JBDC, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica National (JN), Small Business Loans Limited, and Café de Vinci.
Mr. Morgan says the residents of Parade Gardens also played their part by accommodating the various engagements and making their contributions to the event’s preparation and successful staging on May 17.
These included: a business development workshop, several mini cooking sessions, and the competition’s formal launching at the PIOJ’s offices in New Kingston.
The programme has received the blessing and endorsement of Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, and PIOJ Director General, Colin Bullock, both of whom spoke at the launch.
Commending GASPRO for initiating the project, Mr. Hylton expressed the hope that the endeavour will increase Jamaica’s economic activity and employment level.
“GASPRO’s contribution brings an opportunity for the economic empowerment of community members, which is critical to the redevelopment and re-inclusion of marginalized communities. The focus on economic empowerment also supports one of the central pillars of the CRP, namely socio-economic development,” he noted.
For his part, Mr. Bullock described the initiative as “significant,” as it “operates within a public-private modality, which is essential to achieving sustained growth and development.”
“This partnership between the Community Renewal Programme and GASPRO Limited asserts corporate-social responsibility, and realizes efforts to empower the lives of the residents within communities, like Parade Gardens,” the Director General said.
Chief Executive Officer of GASPRO, Kailashnath Maharaj, said in conceptualizing the programme, the management explored the goals they were trying to achieve within the communities they worked, “that would bring real value” to the beneficiaries and participants.
The first street cook-up saw a section of Tower Street, between South Camp Road and Fleet Street, being transformed into a carnival-like setting, with persons from all walks of life flocking to the location.
Twenty community cooks participated in the initial stage, from which 12 finalists were selected for the final cook off. Prizes included six burner gas stoves, deep-freezers, microwaves, blenders, toasters, juice extractors, and gift baskets.
Having successfully staged the first ‘Street Style Cook-Up’, Mr. Morgan says GASPRO is now in preparation mode for the next event later this year.