Forsyth Seafood Market and Café, 108 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Winston-Salem, is one of 71 Black-owned food businesses to be awarded a LEE Initiative grant this month.
The LEE Initiative, working with Heinz and Southern Restaurants for Social Justice, awarded $1.1 million in grants to Black-owned businesses nationwide. The grants are aimed at supporting restaurant owners and preserving Black food culture.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to meet these business owners and build our community through this work. With any luck, we will get to continue this incredible opportunity to offer support and to build up the restaurateurs, cooks, chefs and families that define a truly vital pulse in our industry,” said Lisa Donovan, co-founder of Southern Restaurants for Social Justice.
Forsyth Seafood, owned by Virginia Hardesty and daughter Ashley Hardesty Armstong, was awarded $20,000, Hardesty Armstrong said.
She said that a chef friend on Facebook told her about the grant. As part of the application, Forsyth Seafood submitted a plan for how the grant could help it diversify the business.
“Our plan is to expand our different channels, like doing retail and packaging for grocery stores. We also want to get into national shipping. We’re working on that,” she said.
Hardesty Armstrong said that such popular products as Forsyth Seafood’s breading mix, coleslaw and gumbo are possible items to pitch to area grocery stores.
As part of the grant, Forsyth Seafood is one of several businesses to be featured on a podcast hosted by food writer Adrian Miller, the author of "Soul Food" and other books.The Black Kitchen Initiative podcasts are available through most podcast apps and at BlackKitchenInitiative.com.
“We have always been inspired by the work of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and were honored to be able to partner with Heinz to support SRRJ’s goal of assisting Black-owned food businesses,” said Lindsey Ofcacek, a co-founder of The LEE Initiative.
Ofcacek and Edward Lee founded The LEE Initiative as a nonprofit in 2017 in response to the #MeToo movement. The LEE Initiative focuses on issues of diversity and equality in the restaurant industry. For more information, visit www.leeinitiative.org.