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All The Help You Need To Start Any Kind Of Food Business


Winifred W. McGee
Senior Extension Educator,
Agricultural Entrepreneurship
Penn State Extension
Lebanon, PA 17042

  Interview Highlights

  • "Food for Profit" is a class she has been teaching for a long time.
  • It is experiencing a renaissance in recent years.
  • For people interested in setting up a food related business.
  • Originally started for farmers who wanted to add value to their products.
  • How farmers can expand their markets and how to sell products directly and not through middle-men.
  • They also used to have classes in "Sewing for Profit" and "Inns and Outs of Starting A Bed and Breakfast" and for people who wanted to set up a day care in their home.
  • "Food for Profit" is for people thinking about starting a business or who already have started a business.
  • They have people who started a food business come in and tell you how they did it.
  • They have a state regulator come in and tell you want kind of food you can produce and sell out of your home.
  • You can sell lots of baked goods, but not those that require refrigeration.
  • They have a list of the types of food products that are legal to produce at home.
  • Maryland is changing the law to make it easier to make and sell food from home.
  • There are other Cooperative Extension services around the country who want to have a similar course.
  • She recently received funds to design an online course the will be available soon on their website.
  • It will be available for people all across the country.
  • You will be able to sign-up and access the information any time you want.
  • It should be available by the end of the summer.
  • Topics include: legal aspects, target marketing, pricing, niche marketing, packaging.
  • How to make money and not just have an expensive hobby.
  • They have courses around the state for both rural and city people.
  • In cities people want to make specialty food products or be a caterer or restaurateur.
  • It is a one-day workshop, from 9am to 4pm.
  • They put on 12 workshops last year.
  • She started this workshop in 1992.
  • These classes evolved; it used to be how to bring in a little extra money and now it is for real businesses.
  • People want food that has a face to it.
  • People are also aware of carbon footprint.
  • Also people come who are unemployed or underemployed.
  • And people who have special food needs create special food from themselves and now want to sell it to others like vegetarians and people who are food sensitive.
  • You learn how to make a business plan feasibility study.
  • They also hook you up with a University of Minnesota website called AgPlan that will help you complete the business plan:
  • It only costs $40.
  • They also have "ServSafe" classes to make sure that food is served safely, this is required for making certain kinds of foods.
  • Classes are also available at Community Colleges.
  • About 30 people in a class.
  • Packaging is a very important thing.
  • They also build in a risk-management portion of the class to cover items like food poisoning and how to eliminate these problems.
  • One of their students took his family seasoning product that is now selling around the country.