Courtesy of Althea’s Tropical Delights
“During the Jamaica FEASTS 12-week intensive program, and under the guidance of the Jamaica FEASTS mentors, my dream became a reality,” said success story Althea Magloire, owner and operator of Althea’s Tropical Delights.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A successful culinary pre-accelerator that offers training and mentorship for entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their food businesses in Jamaica is set to double the number of classes to 12 from 6, and expand to locations in northern, southern and western Queens, while maintaining a presence at the Central Library branch in Jamaica, the City Economic Development Corporation and Queens Library recently announced.
Starting this summer, the Food Entrepreneurship and Services Training Space will increase its program capacity to 250 students from 100 in order to address the high need for similar resources throughout the city. The expansion follows a spike in the number of interested applicants, roughly 60 percent of which were residents from beyond the greater Jamaica area. FEASTS will also introduce training in English as Second or Foreign Language at the forthcoming Northern Queens location. In addition, the program will add new employees, including a full-time entrepreneurship counselor, a part-time ESOL teacher, and a part-time data analyst to track participant outcomes, City officials noted.
“Jamaica FEASTS has delivered amazing results for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a food business and entrepreneurs who already have started one,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott. “With this expansion to other communities in Queens, more of our customers will have the opportunity to meet their ambition to thrive in one of New York City’s most dynamic sectors. We are deeply grateful to the New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for their vision, investment and support of our mission to transform people’s lives and build strong communities.”
Jamaica FEASTS 1.0 was designed to train the next generation of food business entrepreneurs by providing training and workspace to develop new food and catering businesses in Jamaica. The program successfully graduated 100 participants, 75 percent of whom were women and 70 percent of whom were minority entrepreneurs, according to program officials. Graduates from the program have received Vendy Awards and Good Food Awards, have been showcased at the NYC Wine and Food Festival, and have participated at major events including the Brooklyn Army Terminal Centennial Celebration and the Queens Night Market.
“Jamaica FEASTS has played a pivotal role in providing training and business development support to the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs in Queens,” Patchett said. “This program’s success is evidenced by the number of students who have grown their businesses, and in turn are helping to create new jobs and strengthen local economies. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Queens Library to expand this vital program that will support talented entrepreneurs throughout different neighborhoods in Queens.”
An EDC spokeswoman assured The Forum this week that the agency plans to announce the new FEASTS borough locations at a later date this spring.
According to NYCEDC and Queens Library, since FEASTS’ inception in 2016, more than 100 students have graduated and nearly 50 percent have launched successful food businesses.
“I am so proud to be a graduate of the Jamaica FEASTS Program,” said Althea Magloire, owner and operator of Althea’s Tropical Delights. “Upon being accepted into the program all I had was a dream of one day turning my passion into a business. During the Jamaica FEASTS 12-week intensive program, and under the guidance of the Jamaica FEASTS mentors, my dream became a reality.”