The Healthy School Food Collaborative, a food services company dedicated to expanding access to nutritious meal options for students, families and communities, announced a $4.6 million, five-year expansion plan for its St. Tammany Parish facility.
The company projects the expansion will create 77 direct jobs over 10 years, with an estimated average annual salary of about $53,500, and 140 indirect jobs.
“Announcements like this one are positive not only for our economy but for the public health of our communities as well,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “The expansion of the Healthy School Food Collaborative’s Pearl River facility will support the company’s mission to provide Louisiana school children and their families with access to balanced, cost-effective meals while also ushering in new opportunities for the state’s food manufacturing industry.”
The collaborative was established in 2016 to New Orleans to reduce childhood obesity in Louisiana, and from its operations off U.S. Hwy. 11 in Pearl River and a diversification of its food services, the company now reaches clients in 16 states and Washington, D.C.
The project will be divided into three phases: the addition of a commercial kitchen in year one; the expansion of existing cold storage and USDA food manufacturing facilities in years two and three; and the development of a new Healthy School Food Collaborative Research and Development Culinary Lab, a hybrid food services startup incubator and food co-packing and co-manufacturing space.
The collaborative plans to open its culinary lab to out-of-state companies looking to develop and produce food products in Louisiana, as well as be made available as an experimental kitchen and co-packing space for chefs and restaurateurs.
To secure the project in Pearl River, the state offered the collaborative a competitive incentive package including the full services of LED FastStart, Louisiana’s recruitment, customized training and workforce development program. The company is also expected to participate in the state’s Quality Jobs program.
“This expansion from the Healthy School Food Collaboration will increase their ability to serve the needs of companies around southeast Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As our region’s food and beverage manufacturing industry continues to grow, so have the needs for critical services like those that will be performed at this new facility. This project also aligns well with a shared vision for St. Tammany Parish to evolve into a thriving light-industrial location.”
The collaborative is a team of food service operations professionals who support charter and nonpublic schools and districts and community organizations with food program implementation and management. Read more at TheHealthySchoolFoodCollaborative.com.