We can all agree, it’s been a year. But we hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we head towards 2021, with the potential for an effective COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, many of us are daring to breathe (just a little) sigh of relief. But it’s important to note, it’s not over yet. And while we’re all in the same coronavirus storm, not everyone is in the same boat.
Every day, millions of Americans experience food insecurity. Even before the pandemic, 13.7 million households were food insecure at some point in 2019. While vital for reducing the virus spread, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have hit many hard financially. Making it more difficult to put food on the table. In 2020, Feeding America estimates one in six people could experience hunger.
But, in times of uncertainty, it’s good to remember that the world is filled with helpers. Many vegan businesses have stepped up to support others through the ups and downs of 2020. Here are just a few examples of those who have gone above and beyond to feed vulnerable people this year.
5 Vegan Brands Fighting Food Insecurity
1. Kate Farms
Kate Farms specializes in nutritious plant-based shakes and tube-feeding formulas. Back in April, it donated $500,000 worth of products to California’s Meals on Wheels West. A global program that delivers food to vulnerable individuals.
The donation helped the Californian branch of the organization to provide meals to vulnerable seniors, the chronically ill, veterans, and many other at-risk individuals.
John Hommeyer, Kate Farms’ Chief Experience Officer, said in a statement: “Now is the time to come together to support Americans who are most at risk.”
The plant-based brand also partnered with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and The Campaign Against Hunger earlier this year. Together, they delivered 20,000 vegan nutrition shakes to vulnerable seniors and people experiencing food insecurity in Brooklyn.
And earlier this month, as New York City prepares for a second wave of the virus, the brand again teamed up with Adams to donate vegan shakes to residents and staff at the Signature Senior Center in Midwood.
Find out more about Kate Farms here.
2. Support + Feed
The new vegan initiative Support + Feed was founded by Maggie Baird in March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baird, mom to Grammy-award winning musician Billie Eilish and producer Finneas O’Connell, created the organization to help struggling families, vulnerable individuals, and plant-based businesses.
The idea is simple: people place an order with their favorite vegan restaurant, but the food is then delivered to those who need it. Since April, the initiative has donated nearly 50,000 meals.
Its mission statement reads: “Support + Feed provides plant-based meals prepared by local vegan restaurants to people experiencing food insecurity, particularly in BIPOC communities, with several end goals: nourishing and providing educational materials to those in need, supporting the small business community, and positively impacting the climate crisis.”
In July, LIVEKINDLY sponsored a donation of 500 Support + Feed meals to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro LA. The non-profit organization works to support vulnerable children in some of Los Angeles’s most underserved neighborhoods. It aims to help young people achieve “their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.”
Baird told LIVEKINDLY: “We were so inspired by and excited to choose the Boys and Girls Club of Metro LA for this partnership. They do incredible work in their communities and are helping so many children and families. We just want to support their mission, be an ally to their work, and provide them with healthy plant-based meals. It’s really an honor to work with them.”
Find out more about Support + Feed and how to get involved here.
3. Chilis on Wheels
Michelle Carrera founded Chilis on Wheels six years ago, after she was unable to find a vegan soup kitchen to volunteer at in New York City. She made a pot of vegan chili and took it out onto the street to distribute to vulnerable people. And Chilis on Wheels was born. Now, it has grown into a vegan charity that provides hunger-relief across the U.S.
The organization strives to dismantle systemic barriers to healthy, plant-based eating. Carrera told LIVEKINDLY last year that these barriers include: “food deserts, lack of time for cooking when having to work more than one job, and lack of access to a kitchen due to inequalities in housing.”
Throughout this year, Chilis on Wheels has worked tirelessly to provide vegan food to those who need it in New York. It has distributed meals to students no longer receiving their school meals as well as families struggling to put food on the table. It has also hosted “micro food pantry neighborhood tables” in various locations, including Crown Heights and Bushwick. Essentially, these are tables stocked up with essentials for neighbors-in-need to take from.
It has also continued with its hot meal shares; every Saturday in Tompkins Square Park and Sunnyside Queens, and every Friday in Harlem, the organization provides hot meals to those going through houselessness and food insecurity.
Carrera said last year: “Our meal shares are places where we all come to eat, to gather, to connect, to grow.”
Find out more about Chilis on Wheels and how to get involved here.
4. Incogmeato by Morningstar Farms
According to Feeding America, food banks across the U.S. are struggling to keep up with demand. Visitors have increased by around 60 percent. In particular, they are grappling to close the “protein gap,” due to shortages of fresh protein.
In response to this news, Incogmeato by Morningstar Farms, a vegan and veggie meat company owned by Kelloggs, is donating $1 million worth of plant-based protein to Feeding America. The donation will be made in the name of Prissy Pig, one of the brand’s “spokesanimals,” who was voted for in a social media competition.
Blake Thompson, Feeding America’s chief supply chain officer, said the organization is “grateful” for the “much-needed protein.” He added: “Their generosity helps food banks provide more nourishing food to our neighbors during this challenging time. We are thankful for their commitment to fighting hunger and for helping to address the increased need in our communities.”
Find out more about Incogmeato here.
5. Beyond Meat
Plant-based meat company Beyond Meat announced its Feed a Million+ initiative back in April. It revealed it would be working with its dedicated partners to donate and distribute more than one million Beyond Burgers to food banks, hospitals, community centers, and other “frontline organizations” across the country.
A number of celebrities got involved to help the brand with its pledge, including Kevin Hart, Lindsey Vonn, P.K. Subban, Karlie Kloss, Snoop Dogg, Todd Gurley, Joaquin Phoenix, and Rooney Mara.
In a video announcing their support for the initiative earlier this year, Phoenix and Mara revealed they had chosen three organizations in Los Angeles working to support young people going through food insecurity and homelessness: The Midnight Mission, The Urban School Food Alliance, and My Friend’s Place.
Food insecurity isn’t going away, but these vegan businesses and initiatives show that vulnerable people are not alone. To make your own donation to Feeding America and support food banks across the country, see here.