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Building Community Through Food

For Todd Minor, building a business by inspiring others through food and community is a legacy founded through his great grandmother, Myrtle Henderson. "[She] used her food to bring people together, she taught so many life lessons in the kitchen … my great grandmother loved and hugged on everybody," said Minor, owner of Nana's Southern Kitchen.

This warm and inviting personality that Myrtle gave to others is what Todd wanted Nana's Southern Kitchen to invoke when people walk into the restaurant. "As soon as the doors open, the whole restaurant says, 'welcome to Nana's… people love the way that the food tastes, and they love the way that we make them feel when they walk in the door," said Minor.

A year ago, Nana's Southern Kitchen gave away free meals to the Kent community. This all stemmed from Todd's conversation with Jamal Crawford, a former NBA player and leader in the community. They gave away 400 meals during the 2020 holiday season through this partnership. Then, in 2021, Todd wanted to go bigger and give back in a more significant way. "This year, we decided we were going to go even higher, and we wanted to give away 1200 meals. So, we gave away 600 meals in Kent and 600 in Covington," said Minor.

"What moves me is the letters that I get afterward, the letters of gratitude … it personifies what my great grandmother was like; she used that food to bring people together."

Kent-Meridian Dean of Students, Michael Simmons, sees Nana's as a huge part of the Kent and KSD community and recognizes its benefits, especially for our students of color. "I just think the impact of having a Black-owned business in the community, with the diversity of our students, especially for students of color, [shows] that they can open up businesses in their community and those businesses can have success," said Simmons.

The importance of Nana's Southern Kitchen in the community of Kent and KSD builds a pathway towards future success for our community and our students. "We want to bridge the gap to continue to create partnerships with the school district, our city, and our community … whether they are in the high school for [students] that want to learn customer service, marketing, and learn how to cook or a person that is a part of the Kent community that needs a good job that is going to treat them well," said Minor.

"I want to invest in communities … I've hired [students] who are in the Kent School District, we've partnered with PTAs, Kent Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and I'm proud to partner with the community and leave meaningful deposits [here]."