(Sentinel, The (Carlisle, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 30--CARLISLE -- Winifred McGee wants to know if there is anyone out there who has been told that their homemade foods are good enough to sell.
If so, she has a class for them.
The extension educator of agricultural entrepreneurship for Penn State Extension said anyone interested in selling their food products is the perfect candidate for the Food for Profit class in Carlisle.
"It's a good introduction for people who want to start making food to sell in one way or another," McGee said. "It's good for farmers who want to start adding value and producing some kind of consumer-ready product, it's good for people who are not necessarily in farming but just have a product that people have found interesting. Very often good cooks are told, 'You should sell that, people would buy that,' and so people who have that kind of product that they've been encouraged to look into, come to Food for Profit."
The class will be at the Penn State Extension Cumberland County Office at 310 Allen Road, Suite 601, in Carlisle on Oct. 9. The one-day workshop aims to show those interested in selling their food products how to navigate the maze of local and state regulations, food safety issues and business management concepts that everyone has to consider before setting up a commercial food business.
The registration fee for the workshop is $45 until Sept. 18 and then it goes up to $55 until registration closes on Oct. 2. The fee includes all supplies and lunch during the course.
McGee said she has been teaching this class since 1992 and each year things have changed a little bit, so now her class doesn't resemble the one she started teaching. But it has kept up with current regulations and trends, especially in food safety.
"The Food for Profit workshop that we have today is nothing like the one we had in 1992, simply because the marketplace has changed, consumer expectations have changed, what we think about food has changed, and so it's a very different audience than the one we offered back then," she said. "We're continually upgrading and revising materials to be the most current research-based information we can have for the food entrepreneurs and would-be food entrepreneurs that come to the class."
This year, because of some of the changes to regulations, the course will also have a section on insurance policies for small businesses.
If someone ends up on the waiting list and can't attend the class in Carlisle, McGee said the extension has about 12-14 of the same classes across the state throughout the year, so it's possible to catch another one at a different time of the year.
Food for Profit takes participants step-by-step through the entrepreneurial process, McGee said. It will provide them with the information and skills to assess if their ideas are something that will sell at a profit. By attending the class, beginners can learn how to evaluate the opportunities on paper before looking for funding or taking action.
She said they will talk about the game plan that is needed before anything can be put together, and someone from the Bureau of Food Safety & Laboratory Services will speak about requirements. The program will also address marketing plans, packaging the product and financing it, and there will also be a food safety presentation, which McGee said is key.
"We have a presentation on food safety because that is vital now in relation to the liabilities to a product that people ingest," McGee said. "Food businesses and food business people really need to think about food safety in a big way."
She said there are three things that should be asked before a business plan can even take shape: Can I do it? Will it be marketable? And will this be profitable?
"In one day, a person gets a good head start in figuring out whether this is really the right food venture for them," McGee said. "For any person that wants to start any type of business, it's more or less a scavenger hunt to go around and find all the pieces and parts and who you need to talk to and where you need to go in order to start up your business. Food for Profit is really designed to respond to that scavenger hunt and make sure that we collect a lot of those pieces in one place for people."
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