The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday is expected to consider beginning the process of allowing microenterprise home kitchen operations throughout the county.
The kitchens, known as “MEHKOs,” can be authorized on a county-by-county basis. State law established MEHKOs as a new type of retail food facility operated by a resident in a private home. To date, seven of California’s counties have authorized MEHKOs, including Riverside.
“Adopting the MEHKOS program will help lift non-traditional food entrepreneurs who are usually women, immigrants, people of color, and others, and who have historically faced barriers breaking in as entrepreneurs,” said Board of Supervisors’ Vice Chair Nora Vargas, who is co-heading the effort with Supervisor Joel Anderson. “I’m confident that through this program, the County of San Diego can make true transformational change by uplifting people’s entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to enrich their community through their talents.”
Anderson’s office received more than 30 letters of support from local community groups and organizations.
“Foodnome, the first legal marketplace for home-cooked food in the U.S., has actively supported over 150 home cooks, the majority of whom are women and people of color, to obtain legal MEHKO permits across California,” said Roya Bagheri, the Foodnome representative.
“In over two years of operation, with more than 100,000 meals sold, there have been zero food safety complaints. We’ve seen the incredible impacts of the MEHKO program on inclusion, incubation, and innovation in local communities and urge San Diego County to provide this opportunity for residents,” Bagheri said.
Supervisors Anderson and Vargas’ board letter being considered Wednesday would direct county staff to return to the board in 90 days with an ordinance authorizing MEHKO operations in San Diego County. Opportunities for public input will be given during the drafting of the MEHKO ordinance.
“MEHKOs bring talented chefs into our local food economy and create opportunities for economic growth,” Anderson said.
City News Service contributed to this article.