Greenville continues to be challenged with the issue of food deserts, defined as low-income areas without a grocery store within a mile, and therefore tend to rely on fast-food restaurants or convenient stores as primary food sources In partnership with the Phillis Wheatley Association (PWA) and Greenville County, a recent DLI capstone project (PW CHOP) initiated the first phase toward developing a culinary arts program to be operated at the Phillis Wheatley Center (PWC). This first phase involved the planning, development, and fundraising for a fully functioning kitchen as a part of the overall renovations at PWC. Our project team has taken on the task of creating a business plan for developing and operating the program itself, once the kitchen is operable (targeted early 2019). In addition to budgeting and operational guidance, the business plan includes increasing awareness of PWC and the culinary arts program, as well as the identification of new partners that could assist with funding, curriculum, and the possibility of an income and job producing café. It has been proposed that the program be named for Calder Ehrmann, longtime community leader in Greenville and volunteer for PWC.
PWA was established in 1919 to provide its African-American community with social, recreational, and welfare services. It was used as the central location for distribution of food and other services by the federal government. As it nears its 100-year anniversary, plans are underway to revitalize PWC. In addition to facility renovations, a new vision for operating the Center has been developed. Greenville County Recreation will run the summer camp, after-school program, and a senior program. The Phillis Wheatley Association will operate academic programming with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Math). It is envisioned that the culinary arts initiative will be a signature piece of this programming. Kids and adults will be trained to prepare healthy meals, not only leading to healthier eating habits, but also preparing community members for possible jobs in food service. After-school programs will benefit from the food prepared and an ongoing café may be created as well for the general public.