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Meet Sam Polk of Everytable

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Polk.

Sam, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My real story started once I left Wall Street. Once a top hedge fund trader, I became utterly dismayed with the soulless pursuit of money and power and returned home to Los Angeles, where I found my true pursuit – to promote food equality among people from all walks of life, but especially those who live in food deserts and fight food insecurity each and every day.

Along the way, I also wrote a book, “For the Love of Money,” which chronicled the addictions I battled most of my life and my journey to what have become my passions today: Feast and Everytable.

After watching a series of documentaries on Netflix about hunger and lack of access to healthy and affordable food in arguably the richest country in the world, I founded the non-profit Feast (originally called Groceryships) in 2013 to address food-related health problems in South Los Angeles, where the average annual income is $13,000, life expectancy is 10 years lower than more affluent areas, and diseases like obesity and diabetes are alarmingly high. Feast helps local families make healthy food choices through nutrition education, cooking classes, free produce, and peer support groups.

In 2016, I partnered with David Foster, a former private equity professional, to create Everytable to solve the food deserts in which the majority of Feast families lived. Food deserts are often found in lower-income neighborhoods where residents have little or no access to fresh, healthy and nutritious foods and the only affordable food option is unhealthy fast food.

Has it been a smooth road?
Building a brand from the ground up is not easy, let alone working to serve the highest quality food that is also affordable and convenient. Every day our team works to transcend the friction between affordability and accessibility and building a profitable company.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Everytable – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our mission at Everytable is to bring healthy and affordable food to every table across the country. What started as a revolutionary grab-and-go restaurant concept with made-from-scratch meals priced according to the neighborhood, Everytable has now transformed into an omnichannel, fresh-prepared food business blending storefronts, subscriptions and Smartfridges supplied by a central kitchen. While some restaurant brands might espouse or market a healthier menu, they aren’t in the neighborhoods that need it most. Everytable, on the other hand, is found in low-income neighborhoods like Watts, Compton and South Los Angeles, and at colleges such as Cal State Los Angeles and others with widespread food insecurity.

At the same time, we believe that every person is equally valuable and when it comes to healthy food, no one should be left out. As such, Everytable has a footprint in more upscale communities such as Brentwood, as well as hospitals, non-profits, law firms and companies such as TOMS, Tesla, and Saatchi, which want to make it easy and affordable for their employees to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Meals here are priced slightly more to keep prices affordable in lower-income communities. Across the board, however, meals at Everytable through any of its distribution channels are much more affordable and nutritious than at comparable brands, starting at $5.00.

To date, Everytable has sold more than 1 million meals and for every 50,000 meals sold, it lays the groundwork to open a storefront in an underserved community. With the backing of our food-forward investors like Kimbal Musk, Maria Shriver, Gwyneth Paltrow, TOMS Social Enterprise Fund, Acumen, and most recently, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we believe that Everytable has the potential to work in every major metropolitan area across the county.

Next year, we plan to open another 20 to 25 storefronts, expand our presence on campuses where an estimated 40% of students are food insecure, and bring more Smartfridges into workplaces to give all employees easy access to affordable healthy food. Honestly, if we can prove our model here in Los Angeles, we can take it virtually anywhere.

We’re also proud to offer a Pay It Forward program where our guests have the opportunity to help deserving individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, food insecurity or daily hunger. Guests simply purchase a meal (or multiple meals) and then write a happy or inspirational Post-It note that is posted on the Pay It Forward Wall found in each of our storefronts, or who order through our meal delivery subscription service. When anyone comes in who can’t afford a meal, they can peel off one of the notes and present it to the cashier. To date, nearly 3,000 Pay It Forward meals have been given.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Los Angeles was really the ideal place to launch Everytable. Los Angeles is one of the most vibrant, diverse and exciting cities in the world, Yet, there is a vast amount of people living at or below the poverty line with very little access to nutrient-rich fresh food that will keep them healthy. As we continue to grow and evolve and make a real and lasting impact in the communities we now serve, we are proving that our model – our solution – works.

Pricing:

  • A key tenet of our mission is affordability. By preparing fresh meals every morning in our central kitchen and then distributing to our storefronts and Smartfridges, we are able to reduce operating expenses and keep our costs as low as possible and at optimum quality.
  • This also allows us to price meals according to the neighborhood. For example, meals in lower income communities begin at $5.00, while the same meals start around $7.00 to $8.00 in higher income areas.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Everytable

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