FoodLocal BusinessStacy M. Brown

Baltimore Program Helps Food Vendors with Economic Inclusion, Growth

As one of the largest, most comprehensive and most respected providers of health-related services to the people of northwest Baltimore, LifeBridge Health (LBH) advocates preventive services, wellness and fitness services, and educational programs.

And the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) is a collaborative partnership of anchor institutions, funders, nonprofits and public organizations focused on establishing economic inclusion as the business culture of norm in the Baltimore region.

Its premise is that anchor institutions are already central to the health and prosperity of local communities. Together, LBH and BIP have helped spearhead the success of local and minority-owned businesses.

In 2017, LBH tapped its food-service provider, Metz Culinary Management, for a creative way to collaborate with local food vendors and further BIP’s mission of advancing economic inclusion and growth. In response, Metz opened the doors of Sinai Hospital’s Greenspring Café as a place for businesses to set up shop — pop-up shops, to be exact.

For all involved, the proposition was simple: Metz and LBH would continuously rotate small businesses selling food products through several spaces in Greenspring, allowing owners to maximize sales, exposure and resources.

As the program heads into its second year, Greenspring’s pop-up shops are a continued hit with guests, keeping café fare fresh and exciting.

“Metz Culinary Management and LifeBridge Health have been partners since 2017 and Metz values community partnership programs and supports its client’s mission, vision and values,” said Adam Gonzalez, the health care division project manager at Metz.

“LBH is an anchor institution for BIP, a proven community entity throughout Baltimore for new minority-owned businesses,” Gonzalez said. “The program allows local minority-owned businesses to offer their products throughout the hospitals creating a deeper networking opportunity, face-to-face interaction with LBH employees and visitors who may not ordinarily visit them or were aware of their products.”

The program has heightened awareness and created goodwill within the city, he said.

With pop-up shops becoming more popular, consumers are provided a selection of healthy choices not previously realized in Baltimore.

“Baltimore is a very proud city and anything local is highly regarded,” Gonzalez said. “The LBH staff and visitors were very impressed with the variety of vendors and the variety of selections that were introduced. This was truly a grassroots effort for all parties involved,” he said.

With the rotating schedule of small businesses that sell food products at Greenspring, Gonzalez said there is little concern as to whether the set up will be successful.

“It has worked very well. It is successful and it has allowed the local vendors to have permanent shelf space within our retail area,” Gonzalez said. “For 25 years, Metz Culinary Management has built great relationships and supports Population Health in every community including but not limited to community-based fundraising, volunteer groups, philanthropy, nutrition education, and charity groups.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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