Formerly Incarcerated Women Launch Worker-Owned Food Business During COVID-19

ChiFresh Kitchen is a worker-owned cooperative that gives formerly incarcerated people an income, and a second chance, under a corporate structure that attacks high unemployment from the ground up. Formed as a catering business on Chicago's West Side just as the pandemic shutdown began, ChiFresh shifted its intended clientele from nursing homes and schools to food-relief programs distributing free meals. The co-op, initially formed by mostly black women with hopes of scaling up to about 100 worker-owners, echoes the sorts of enterprises formed in response to Jim Crow restrictions of the past.

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