Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Community Table Offers Local Meal Kits Filled With Local Produce

February’s box includes local ingredients and recipes for Minestrone soup, green salad with honey vinaigrette and garlic bread. Photos provided by Elizabeth Speed.

Food kits have become a popular trend across the nation with more and more companies offering boxes filled with all the ingredients needed to make a meal or two shipped to your door.

Now, thanks to Oxonian Elizabeth Speed, there is a new option for a monthly food kit subscription that’s filled with fresh produce from local farmers right here in Lafayette County.

Speed launched Community Table after it was one of five new businesses selected in December to a part of the Community Supported Arts program through the Yoknapawtapha Arts Council. After a virtual launch party in January, Speed began taking orders for the first food kit that will be ready for pick-up up on Feb. 26. Orders for the February meal will be taken through Feb. 15.

Elizabeth Speed, owner of Community Table

The meal kits include all the ingredients needed to make the recipes, plus tips, culinary techniques, and history or culture as it relates to the recipes. There will also be an invitation to join a live Zoom class where Speed will provide instruction to cook the meal.

February’s box includes local ingredients and recipes for Minestrone soup, green salad with honey vinaigrette and garlic bread. March’s meal is macaroni and cheese, sautéed asparagus, and snow peas with sweet potato biscuits.

Boxes ordered before the 15th of the month can be picked up at the Old Armory Pavilion on the last Friday of the month from 4-6 p.m. Limited delivery options are available.

Speed has lived in Oxford since 2001. She started cooking with her two sons and worked for several years in local schools through Foodcorps, teaching children about healthy foods and growing food in school gardens.

When her Foodcorps service was over, she started teaching cooking classes through the Oxford Park Commission and while working at Chicory Market.

“Then, right before the pandemic hit, I purchased Oxsicles,” she said. “Since I wasn’t able to teach cooking classes and there weren’t any festivals or events for me to sell pops, I started thinking of new ways to connect people to food in our community.”

Wanting to continue her cooking classes and help local farmers and food producers, she came up with the idea for Community Table.

Speed said the recipes for each box are easy and quick, with seasonal ingredients that are grown locally. She said the boxes not only offer nutritious meals, but a chance for families to prepare meals together.

The February meal kit will feature greens, carrots and herbs from Samsara Garden and Native Son Farm.

“We have such an abundance of food year-round here in north Mississippi that I wanted to be able to highlight that and also to get people cooking at home,” Speed said. “Studies have shown when families and friends cook together, not only are they creating memories but they are also learning about healthy habits and hopefully trying new foods. In a state where obesity, diabetes and heart disease are so common, I feel that learning to cook healthy meals with local ingredients is very important.”

One box is $40 and feeds a family of four. Subscriptions can be purchased monthly or as a three-month or six-month subscription.

Customers can also purchase a box that will be donated to a local family in need of food assistance. She is working with Betsy Chapman, executive director of the Oxford Community Market to get the boxes to those families.

“Through OXCM’s programs in the community, Betsy has worked with families in CB Webb and also through a partnership with Interfaith Compassion Ministries and the Little Free Pantry in the Old Armory Pavilion,” Speed said.

Speed said as her company grows, she hopes to increase the number of kits she can provide from monthly to weekly and increase the number of meals available.

“I’d like to be able to increase the number of partnerships with local farmers and vendors so that we can include as much locally sourced ingredients as possible,” she said.

For more information, visit Community Market on Facebook or on the YAC website.