Isuken Food Truck will be Lewiston’s new spot for fresh local food and Somali Bantu cuisine. in the summer of 2018, we'll be hitting the streets of Lewiston and headed to festivals, farms, and events in Maine. Our vegetables are grown by Somali Bantu farmers locally and prepared lovingly by the mothers and grandmothers who are owners of our cooperative. We grow vegetables for our truck on our farm outside of Lewiston and source from other Somali Bantu and Maine farmers.
Isuken means unity and together. Isuken will be the Nation’s first Somali Bantu farm-to-table cooperative food truck. We are sharing the culinary and agricultural talents of Somali Bantu farmers and chefs with our community. We, Somali Bantu, are farmers and have fed and nourished our community and country and now grow and cook for our American neighbors.
Isuken shares a menu that is local and delicious with dishes for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free people. The main products that Isuken food truck will offer are Sambusas, fried pastries filled with local meats and veggies. We will offer beef, chicken, fish, goat, and veggie (vegan) options. We will also offer a gluten-free and vegan rice, corn, bean, and veggie dishes and grilled meats. For beverages, we will offer our Somali chai tea, a sweet, spicy, milky tea.
Isuken is a worker-owned cooperative with the five members sharing equally in the responsibilities and rewards of the business. We make decisions together and support each other in the co-op. This co-op structure is based on our traditional form of cooperation "Iskashito," where we farmed and worked together. Now we have formed the co-op so we can support one another in our new home in Maine.
The Isuken Food Truck is the first step towards a permanent farm to table restaurant and market in downtown Lewiston. The Food Truck will bring the food directly to the people, build the brand and following and raise money for the long-term goal of a permanent location.
Through this Kickstarter campaign, we'll be able to invest money in a put down a deposit on a truck, base station for our truck, and have working capital to get the truck started and purchase supplies. We already have offers of financing for the truck purchase and if we raise more money than $10,000 we will have less debt and start the truck up in a better financial position.
Through supporting Isuken, you are helping get local food to people and supporting New American farmers and chefs.
Risks and challenges
Food businesses have risks and challenges and are not easy for anyone to start. There are slim margins and potential for wasted food. Additionally, a food truck faces challenges because it is dependent on the weather, a working vehicle, and good crowds wherever we set-up. We face particular challenges because some of our worker-owners speak limited English and we all moved from refugee camps in Kenya so we are still learning about American business. Fortunately, we have a lot of support from our community. The Cooperative Development Institute has provided ongoing technical assistance and will be helping us through our start-up and beyond. Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization is our sister non-profit that will continue to support our growth and connect us to our community. We have also received support from CEI, Bates College, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, Somali Bantu Community Association, Community Financial Literacy, the City of Lewiston, Conservation Law Foundation Legal Food Hub, Maine Initiatives, Cooperative Fund of New England and others.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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