Taste of Immokalee a project to give back to community
By Jan Norris
In the Spring 2015 issue, we debuted a new column called Editor’s Picks.
The Taste of Immokalee products were chosen – as much for their back story as the flavor that has won over repeat customers.
The makers and recipe creators are 16 top students in Immokalee, a tiny town south of Lake Okeechobee, where most of the population is farm workers and their families.
A group of students from the town were participants in a leadership program, where they packed food products with Meals of Hope – a food charity. Once they saw the impact the foods had on the community, and the response to certain flavors that represented their heritage, they came up with products of their own.
With advisors, and backing for the program they called Giving Back, sponsored by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, they took their dream project to fruition.
The line of spices, salsas, a burger dubbed the I-Town Burger, and Sunny Home Cookies came from family recipes.
Along with creating the foods, they also designed packages and labels, and wrote a bit about themselves on the jars.
It was up to the students, through an advisory board of mentors, to do market research, analyze the books, and come up with the right price-point for profitability.
Their first customers were the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club members. Feedback from those groups helped them fine-tune the products, and expand the marketing.
The immediate prize from profits is college scholarships for the students, but another heart-felt goal was to give back to their community.
It is their hope to eventually create and sell enough products to build a bottling plant in Immokalee to create jobs in the town.
For more information about the program or spices and products from Taste of Immokalee, visit their website at tasteofimmokalee.com