West Mecklenburg High School

Entrepreneurial Product Development

– Locally Grown & Student Produced - Ketchup

Precursor to Regional Food Hub – serving locally grown food at school

The Vision: West Mecklenburg High School, located in NW Charlotte on Tuckaseegee Road, currently has a culinary and foods program and is beginning a schoolyard garden program. These components lend themselves to an entrepreneurial approach to local foods and product development involving work/study students. Harvest Moon Restaurant is a local uptown Charlotte restaurant with a goal of sourcing all their food locally. They have expressed a need for a source of locally grown and produced ketchup. Putting these two goals together is the West Mecklenburg High School Ketchup project which will also serve as a teaching and work/study tool.

Goal: Develop the comprehensive business/school model for implementation of the Ketchup Project including a comprehensive understanding of capital improvements, regulations, approvals, policies and procedures which must be developed. Model includes the development of a line of ketchup from concept to brand to sale involving students in various disciplines from marketing to work/study to culinary etc.


·  Edna Chirico, Executive Director, Catawba River District 704 562-8847

·  Sheila Mullen, Catawba River District K-20 Team

·  Ana Brown , Mecklenburg County Food Policy Council

·  Allison Marshal, Food Corp,

·  Cassie Parsons, Grateful Growers & Harvest Moon Grill

·  Sheldon Schreiber, Grateful Growers & Harvest Moon Grill (704) 342-1193

·  Beth Mack, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Farm to School (419) 934-0693 and Allison Mignery, Mecklenburg County Health Department

·  Megan Lambert, Johnson & Wales 980-598-1465 and potentially others from Johnson and Wales.

·  Jason Jones, Charlotte School of Law

Steps and Components:

1.  Secure permission from CMS to pursue the goal – accomplished (Ann Clark, Deputy Superintendent: Wayne Fisher, CMS STEM Center and Cynthia Hobbs, Executive Director CMS Nutrition)

2.  Determine the legal and regulatory requirements and agencies involved in establishing a local line of ketchup as an enhancement to West Mecklenburg High School, utilizing the current culinary and food laboratories/classrooms, and other land/facilities as determined to be required. Jason Jones with Charlotte School of Law – in process

3.  Develop the Business Plan:

  2. PLANNING – 2013:
  3. Required Approvals – local and state, including recipe approval from NC State
  4. Legal – Product Development, Liability, etc.
  5. Budget: Start –Up, Capital Investment, Operations, Equipment, Supplies
  6. Marketing, Advertising, Branding
  8. Policies and Procedures
  9. Sourcing of Tomatoes (grown and purchased from area farmers)
  10. School Enhancements/Improvements
  11. Coordination with Culinary, Food and Gardening Programs
  12. Production and Distribution
  13. OPERATIONS – 2015:
  14. Integration of Work/Study and Summer Employment
  15. Purchase Agreements
  16. Financial and Accounting


The Catawba River District has been working with schools in NW Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Mecklenburg County Food Policy Council, Mecklenburg Cooperative Extension, Food Corp., Friendship Gardens and numerous others to explore the potential for completing a Farm to School model which supports schoolyard gardens, a sustainable working farm and ultimately a regional food hub. Goals include:

·  Improving educational outcomes through incorporating hands-on learning in conjunction with schoolyard gardens and sustainable working farm.

·  Improving career readiness through integration and incorporation of agri-business and local foods, and related industries.

·  Working with the CMS Nutrition Program to incorporate more locally grown food into school cafeterias, knowing there are numerous facets that must be considered (CMS - school cafeterias have revenue goals, must adhere to state, federal and local laws and regulations, while serving 90,000 meals per day).

The students at West Mecklenburg High School are over 84% economically disadvantaged and impacted by three major challenges – Academic Achievement Gap, Childhood Obesity and Nature Deficit Disorder. Farm to School has the potential to positively affect each of these challenges.

Demographics and Attributes:

School demographics: 1729 students, 74% of students economically disadvantaged, 2010-2011 65.9% of students performing at or above grade level (has been improving under Principle Eric Ward) African American 69.6%; Hispanic 11.7%, White 9.3%

The ultimate goal is to create a regional food hub within West Mecklenburg High School folding in the curriculum, work/study and the career awareness components already in place at the school. West Mecklenburg has unique attributes making it uniquely suitable for this project:

1.  Over 1,700 students

2.  Culinary classes as electives (Culinary Arts Intro 1, 2, Foods 1, 2)

3.  $30,000 renovation of teaching kitchen just being completed

4.  Separate commercial kitchen adjacent to teaching kitchen

5.  They already have a culinary program which student prepare a meal for teachers quarterly and charge sufficient pricing to cover expenses

6.  OCS – work/study programs

7.  AVID – Career readiness elective

8.  Internship opportunities and class project requirements for juniors and seniors

9.  Engineering -focus and electives

10.  Multi-Media Web Design and Marketing electives

11.  Principals of Business electives

12.  Greenhouse biology elective (they would like a greenhouse – they would love to incorporate aquaponics – would expand their culinary and engineering and business areas of focus)

13.  50 acres of land – with several areas close to classrooms suitable for raised bed gardens, greenhouses, etc.

NOTE: Catawba River District will begin working with two Earth Science Spring 2013 in the development of raised bed gardens for hands-on learning.