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My Local Chefs

March 01, 2023

Owner: Vanessa Sena

Location: Hartford

Length of time in business: 18 months

Diverse supplier designation: Minority- and woman-owned

Product or service provided: Nutritional, custom meals for sick people

Number of employees: Partner with more than 50 chefs, 12 farmers, 10 drivers and 5 administrators.

Vanessa Sena envisioned an ecosystem that could help small, food-based businesses boost the overall well-being of their communities.

“I call it the FUBU effect, which stands for ‘For Us, By Us.’ We are perfectly capable of looking out for each other, and this is a way to show that through food,” explains Sena, who opened her food network and consultancy company, My Local Chefs, almost two years ago.

Partnering with an array of local chefs and farmers – “Our job is to support small businesses, so we don’t bring them in as employees,” she says – My Local Chefs creates custom, nutritionally-rich, culturally-relevant and healing meals and food items that are delivered to acute and chronically ill people across the state.

“We develop long-term, sustainable relationships with Connecticut’s farmers, producers and chefs who lack the access, technology and delivery options to sell their high-quality, nutrient-dense fresh food to larger organizations in our state,” Sena says.

“Our program improves patient satisfaction, compliance and health outcomes. We also work with local nonprofits to provide nutrition education with meals and help improve health literacy.”

The work attracted the attention of Hartford HealthCare at its second annual supplier diversity summit in October 2021. The system now works with My Local Chefs to support food delivery at the Institute of Living and for catering.

“A diverse supply chain, like that supported at Hartford HealthCare, showcases underrepresented groups. Diverse suppliers drive innovation and can create initiatives from the ground up,” Sena says. “Diverse suppliers can understand the needs of the community on a personal level.”