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Seven of California's counties have authorized microenterprise home kitchens, or MEHKOs. Courtesy photo
Seven of California's counties have authorized microenterprise home kitchens, or MEHKOs. Courtesy photo
Food & Wine News Region

Board of Supervisors to consider allowing home kitchen businesses

REGION — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is expected to consider today beginning the process of allowing microenterprise home kitchen operations throughout the county.

These 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 to be 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 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.

Two of these supporters, Foodnome and the San Diego MEHKO Coalition, had representatives speak with the supervisors at a news conference last week.

“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 Tuesday 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.

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