Entrepreneurship & Food Jobs


  • Emi Reyes, Latino Economic Development Center
  • Ronnie Webb, the Green Scheme
  • Kate Mereand, Department of Small & Local Business Development
  • Caroline Howe, Department of Small & Local Business Development
  • Emily Johnson, DC Office of Planning

Priorities & Accomplishments:

2020 Priorities:

  1. Identify strategies to increase affordable commercial kitchen space, cold storage, storefronts, and retail opportunities for District food entrepreneurs. District residents who own hyperlocal food businesses struggle to access commercial kitchens, storefronts, and retail partners to bring their products to market. As real estate prices increase, more support is needed to create a thriving hyperlocal food business economy.
  2. Deploy innovative strategies for food businesses to support high-quality food jobs and careers. In 2019, the Food Policy Office within the Office of Planning, Department of Employment Services, and the Workforce Investment Council created the DC Food Workforce Development Strategy to create more meaningful career pathways within the food sector. In 2020, this Strategy will be amplified and deployed to District agencies and businesses.
  3. Identify and catalogue District regulations and licensing that present challenges for small food businesses. Many small food businesses in the District struggle to navigate the complex, costly process of obtaining the necessary government approvals and licenses to open for business. Greater understanding of these challenges will help businesses plan their course of action and highlight opportunities for the District to streamline its requirements.


Make Food Work: A Strategy to Strengthen the DC Food Workforce (January 2020) creates a road map for improving job quality and expanding career pathways within the District’s food workforce. Created with support from Kaiser Permanente, the report is a collaborative effort of the DC Food Policy Council, DC Office of Planning, Workforce Investment Council (WIC) and Department of Employment Services (DOES) with input from workforce training providers, businesses, and community organizations.

Food Economy Study (September 2019)  — The Food Economy Study is an analysis of the economic, employment, and fiscal impact of the District’s local food economy. The study examines various sectors of the local food economy including food production, grocery stores, restaurants and bars, and wholesaling and distribution and then provides recommendations to support and grow the local food economy. View the one pager on the Food Economy Study here.

Other Resources:

DC Health Cottage Food regulations: DC Health released the final cottage food regulations in September 2017, which include a list of what non-hazardous foods can be prepared by cottage food producers and where sales can take place. The Cottage Food Expansion Act has passed first reading with DC Council. See this FPC Fact Sheet (2017) on DC cottage food regulations.