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Tamika Dunkley of. Seasoned Gives

Growing A Well-Seasoned Community With Tamika Dunkley

By Jenny Wonderling | June 16, 2023

Tamika Dunkley wields a resume of service, entrepreneurship and commitment to (a truly thriving and diverse!) community that is more than impressive. A lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, her bio is so multifaceted and overflowing that one might wonder how she can possibly accomplish so much, especially while also being a devoted mother of a blended family of seven, as well as a grandmother and wife. Yet love-fueled, she is energetic and dedicated to creating positive change through actions both quiet and bold.

With a background in healthcare as a Registered Nurse and dietician, Tamika brings an impetus to heal and support both strangers and loved ones alike to all she touches and dreams up. As co-founder of Seasoned Delicious Foods, a local Caribbean cuisine company and its affiliate non-profit arm, Seasoned Gives, Tamika is involved in the development of food equity and justice programs, not to mention a kick-ass line of healthy foods for a complex palette. She spearheaded Black Farmers United as one of its founding members, is the Vice President of Ulster County Workforce Development and acts as an active board member and more with other community organizations including Ulster Community College Foundation,  Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC), Ulster Strong and YWCA Ulster County. Additionally, she serves on the advisory board for Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVDAC), Hudson Valley Women in Business and the NYS WDI Cannabis Board.

But wait, there’s more… Tamika has been heralded, “as instrumental in social justice initiatives and advocacy work,” such as the Board of Saugerties Police Reform Commission. Through their “Support Your Neighbor” Program, Tamika has helped facilitate, find funding for, and distribute well over one hundred thousand pounds of food and meals to those in need in Ulster County.

And… Tamika is currently running to serve as Ulster County Legislator to advocate for a more equitable and inspired experience for all in the valley. Whew… and wow!

Need Something Done? Ask a Busy Person… or someone who has love-fueled superpowers and doesn’t need to sleep more than four or five hours a day.

Seasoned Delicious Founderes Tamika and Martin Dunkley

Tamika co-founded Seasoned Delicious Foods in 2016, a traditional Caribbean food company, along with Seasoned Gives, a 501(c)(3) organization, that launched in 2019, with her husband Martinique Dunkley. It is through those two pathways especially that she explains that she has been able to combine her passion for food with her commitment to supporting the community. Seasoned Delicious offers a divine line of spices, seasonings, and condiments made from non-GMO and truly natural ingredients. Their Kingston hub by the same name, is part grocery + retail shop, part educational center and community watering hole. Offering products from BIPOC (Black Indigenous People Of Color) and woman-owned businesses, a portion of all sales go directly to an affiliated non-profit organization, which provides financial literacy, entrepreneurship and job/life skills training with a special focus on BIPOC and women’s community members as well.

Tamika writes, “At the heart of Seasoned Gives is the steadfast belief that economic justice is an essential—and often overlooked—piece of the social justice movement.” The organization also shares classes on economics in their “Circulation of Our Dollar” events and seminars which invite people to see how communities are affected by purchasing choices, local and personal initiatives and more…”

“The real goal there has been to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice through education, ownership and self-sufficiency.”

To learn more about the incredible work Tamika is doing, what freedom and Juneteenth mean to her personally and more, read on…

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INSIDE+OUT: What does true freedom mean to you personally?

Tamika Dunkley: One definition of freedom is, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Unfortunately, still, in this day and age, many people are still not free. Systematic racism, inherent injustice and the inability for all people to come together as members of the same family, the human race, obstructs freedom for many groups. This is especially true for black and brown people. Freedom to me would be not having to always drive our car for fear of my husband being pulled over because he is a black man. To feel safe enough in our residential neighborhood that our son can walk to the store without being harassed. To be able to have the opportunities to do business and make deals without having to work harder to prove my value and worth as a business owner. Freedom would be a sense of peace and calm that my children will grow up in a space of equity.

The amount of hats you wear is unprecedented. What most inspires and fuels you?

It’s the lives of people impacted. It’s a triathlon for sure many days. But to see the lives changed and opportunities open up that would have possibly never come without assistance gives me hope for a brighter future. Knowing I’m giving someone the opportunity I wish I had is one of the most beautiful feelings ever.

Who comes to mind when you speak of lives changed and people impacted? Can you share a story about someone recently impacted by some aspect of the work you do?

One of the most memorable moments was when we did a Thanksgiving event and a 6-year-old told her mom, “Mom look! We get to have real turkey this year!” Another more recent event was with a 32-year-old gentleman who has severe mental health challenges. We were able to help place him in a space and have been delivering food to him for the last two months. He now has a job and just purchased his first-ever vehicle last week.

The Dunkley Family Kingston NY
Who was your greatest inspiration?

My father would give the shirt off his back (literally) to complete strangers. I definitely have his heart for people and the community. Collective communal responsibility is actually in people’s nature but we have shifted as a society. We need to go back to that.

Who do you most hope to inspire and what potential important changes are you aiming to achieve in the next 1-2 years?

Our future is in our young ones. They give me hope. Although they sometimes take things to an extreme, I believe so many of the kids I meet now are so sure of themselves. They are so wise beyond their years that, and with that, there will be a real opportunity for society to be more inclusive, understanding and free for all people. I think a lot has to do with the information age. Social media can be a bad thing but it also allows for connectivity among like-minded people even if they are not in your immediate vicinity. Representation is also important, there have been huge social movements to advocate for Black people, LGBTQIA+, and Asians, etc. They are able to access this information more freely now than ever before. Racism is a learned behavior. At the nail salon last week I watched a Hispanic boy and an Asian boy playing without even speaking the same language. If we all were taught love and acceptance of each other’s differences from that age instead of hate, the world would look very different.

If a wand could be waved and you could manifest to your fullest potential without any obstacles- can you imagine ten years ahead?

OMG! I can’t even see ten days ahead, sometimes. LOL! I will have hopefully finished my book. There is so much work to be done to transform systems that have been put into place that are not equitable. So I think the biggest goal would be to have some of the social justice reforms I’ve been working on realized in the banking and food industry, especially.

Do you envision the concentration of your work staying focused in the Hudson Valley and if beyond, where?

I hope to make what we are doing in the Hudson Valley a model for other communities. We would love to intentionally expand but right now our capacity is maximized.

What excites you about living in the Hudson Valley?

The Hudson Valley has enormous benefits and is a beautiful area to raise kids, have a family and live life to its fullest potential. Sometimes people under-appreciate what the Hudson Valley really has to offer in terms of art, entertainment, activities and being so close to the city but not in it. Which is an added benefit.

What are the things you like most about all the changes in the Hudson Valley in the last five years +/-?

I think the cultural activities have been much more diverse, there are so many more things to do. So many ways to incorporate a connection with the Earth and humans. I think that many people who were born and raised here are now getting a bird’s-eye view of the vast world that’s out there beyond the Hudson Valley. And as someone who has grown up in Ulster County, I see a more and more inclusive community. There is still work to be done but I do see progress.

What aspects of the shifts in the valley feel the most challenging? What would you love to have an impact on?

It’s really difficult to bridge communities sometimes. We, at Seasoned Gives, and more specifically Martin and I have been very intentional and have fostered conscious conversation through elephant-in-the-room talks, circulation of our dollar events and cultural activities, such as the Caribbean Carnival in Saugerties. There have been many challenges that we’ve had initiating these spaces, but I see barriers being broken daily and that is inspiring!

Please share an example of one of the more exciting moments when barriers were broken around or because of your efforts.

I think one of the best feelings was assisting business owners access funding through our accountability talks. We have been able to create a pilot program that helps business owners of color access funding that they may not have been able to access in any other way.

How is your campaign going?

It’s going well– and I was just endorsed by the labor unions. I’m excited to serve our community in this way. If elected, I would be the first black woman to be elected to the Ulster County Legislature.

Tamika Dunkley running for Ulster Legislator
What grade would you give the valley on the subjects of race, inclusivity and diversity and if the report card isn’t up to snuff any recommendations? Please be honest.

There is a lot of tokenism, unfortunately. What I call peripheral DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). There has been a lot of progress but there is a long road ahead and we need to continue to have conscious conversations. This movement has almost lost steam and doesn’t seem to be “on trend” anymore after George Floyd, despite continued atrocities happening against people of color.

What do you feel accounts for this?

The tokenism.

Was/is Juneteenth celebrated in your family and how? Why is this such an important holiday?

Juneteenth is a holiday in our family. We collectively participate in several events in the Hudson Valley, but yearly we volunteer to help coordinate the Juneteenth celebration at the African Burial Grounds in Kingston. It’s a day of activities, music, art and celebration of black excellence! This country was built on the backs of black people- so the celebration of our emancipation, despite still not being fully free, brings attention to all of the historical impacts we have had as a people. And the understanding that our history cannot and will not be erased.

Tamika and Martin Dunkley Family
Do you have more hours in the day than the rest of us mortals? Are there tricks you employ to manage your time?

I use a lot of technology to manage my schedule. We have a new CRM system that allows us to schedule kitchen usage easily, as well as scheduling/communication tracking. I have a calendar that communicates directly to my phone and we use Trello to manage tasks among our team members. Last but not least, maintaining conscious barriers and building relationships is a key component to creating successful community programs.

Embarking on the road to politics in this day and age takes a lot of…courage? Chutzpa? A tinge of madness braided with optimism? An excellent sense of humor and compassionate non-attachment? What are the main reasons you are running for Ulster County Legislature and what are your greatest goals you would love to accomplish or at least make a dent in? What do you think might be an obstacle/s?

I am not political at all. I’m entering into politics because I believe I can truly make a change that I would love to see in this world. One of the things I’m most passionate about is addressing housing. With the housing crisis being at an all-time high, many intergenerational residents are being displaced due to a lack of affordability. We need to address this crisis immediately.

Out of all the things you do and all the ways you love and work to make change, what do you hope to best be remembered for?

It’s crazy because I haven’t put a lot of thought into my legacy. I think the biggest thing is being able to breathe life into people that even wrote themselves off. To inspire those who have very little hope to do better than what they are doing.

Do you have any events you would like to bring attention to?

Yes! Here is a list for this year:

Change Agent Tamika DunkleyIf you would like to volunteer with Seasoned Gives, Tamika’s campaign, or attend any of the events she’s a part of visit the website:

Follow Tamika on Facebook | Instagram 

Elect Tamika Dunkley

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Click HERE to see all of our exclusive interviews with the amazing folks that proudly call the Hudson Valley home.


  • Tamika is a power house of love in actiin.

    June 17, 2023
    • inside + out

      Hey Gloria, indeed she is. It’s remarkable how much she has accomplished, and I believe there’s more to come from her love-fueled journey.

      June 17, 2023

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