The food and beverage industry continues to step up and lend support to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this roundup, we highlight brands’ efforts to give back, including Kate Farms’ and Upwell’s donations to at-risk seniors in Native American communities, Califia Farms’ support for baristas and cafes and a pop-up grocery store for healthcare workers featuring Bolthouse Farms products.
Kate Farms, Upwell Donate to Native American Communities
Plant-based medical meal replacement company Kate Farms has partnered with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to donate its meal replacement shakes to Native American communities throughout the Navajo Nation.
“Kate Farms was founded to bring quality nutrition to those most at risk,” said Kate Farms Chief Experience Officer John Hommeyer. “During these extraordinary COVID-19 times, where seniors are most at risk, we felt compelled to act. Even prior to this pandemic, we understood the food insecurities that those like the Navajo Nation were facing.”
Native American communities were already more vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many live in multi-generational households and cannot effectively social distance. Because of this, the Johns Hopkins Center is using its community health worker model and partnering with tribal leaders to deliver over 2,000 meals to the Navajo Nation (across New Mexico, Utah and Arizona), including elders in Tuba City, Chinle, Crown Point, Shiprock and Fort Defiance.
“I have had the opportunity to help deliver meals in-person through our partner organizations and have seen firsthand their smiles through the masks and [their] overall appreciation,” said Hommeyer. “Many of those we support are homebound and being able to meet, serve and connect with them has also been gratifying for us.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico-based functional wellness beverage brand Upwell also announced it would be donating 100% of online profits through the month of May to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund.
“Upwell Beverages has always been committed to helping improve people’s lives,” said co-founder Mark Niederhaus. “The Navajo Nation’s territory is found within New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and unfortunately, they have seen an infection rate per capita tantamount to that of New York City, sadly without the medical capabilities and essential services footprint needed to address this. Thus, we believe that we have a duty to give back to our community in its time of need.”
Califia Farms Supports Baristas, Cafe Partners, Pledges One Million Servings
Plant-based food and beverage company Califia Farms announced its pledge to donate one million servings of its beverages to COVID-19 relief efforts, with 350,000 servings donated since March 9. In addition to partnerships with Feed The Frontlines NYC, Feeding America, LA Regional Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and public school districts, the company is also working to support coffee shops and baristas who have been affected by the shutdown.
The company is doing an “Oat Barista Blend Giveaway,” a promotion aimed at boosting cafe sales. It will be providing 10,000 units (the equivalent of 40,000 servings) of Califia Farms’ Oat Barista Blend to over 60 of the company’s cafe partners throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Through the giveaway, cafe partners will offer their customers a free carton of Oat Barista with every in-store or online purchase of bagged beans. The company is also offering additional Califia Farms products to cafes which are giving away free coffee to healthcare workers.
“The barista community is an important part of our Califia family, and we want to help ease the burden for them during these difficult times,” said Greg Steltenpohl, CEO and founder of Califia Farms. “They’ve been some of our biggest brand advocates, and it’s our privilege to return that support.”
Califia Farms is also partnering with baristas across those cities, as well as other markets, who have been displaced due to cafe closures. The company is highlighting these baristas on Instagram, providing an outlet for them to share recipes and at-home coffee tricks and offering ways their followers can support local cafes.
Bolthouse Farms Donates to Pop-Up Grocery Store for Healthcare Workers
Twice a week, Bolthouse Farms is donating its products for a pop-up grocery store at Dignity Health Mercy Hospital’s two locations in the company’s hometown of Bakersfield, California. The company has donated carrots, salad dressings and beverages – including C-Boost Smoothies, Protein Keto shakes and BOLTS functional shots — which the hospital’s medical staff can purchase before they head home after their shifts. According to the company, the partnership with the hospital will continue “as long as it’s helpful.”
“People have always been at the heart and soul of Bolthouse Farms, and our mission is to bring fresh, healthy and nutritious food to families’ tables across North America,” said Bill Levisay, president of Bolthouse Farms. “This is even more important today during these challenging times. Producing fresh and healthy food puts us in a unique position to help feed those in need, and we are proud to support food banks and healthcare workers both in our own backyard as well as those across the country.”
The company has also launched a program to support non-profit Feeding America by matching employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000 and CEO Jeff Dunn personally matching each donation dollar-for-dollar up to the same amount. Bolthouse has also provided its own employees with over 10,000 meals since the start of the pandemic, along with donating the equivalent of 25,000 meals to local food banks.
Other Good News from Around the Industry:
- Kombucha maker Health-Ade has pledged to donate $1 million dollars in product to food banks, hospitals, medical centers and precincts to aid in COVID-19 relief efforts. The brand also partnered with Evy Poumpouras, host of Bravo’s “Spy Games” and former member of the secret service to deliver kombucha and Dunkin’ coffee and donuts to 75 NYPD precincts.
- O2 Recovery Drink is spearheading a #StayForMay initiative, along with brands Born Primitive, Puori, and Bear KompleX, who have pledged to donate 50% of profits from online sales in March and April to gym owners. They’re also offering a combined $100 gift card to every gym member in the country who belongs to a gym and has participated in their profit-sharing program (over 2,000 gyms to date) as long as the member continues to pay his or her membership dues for the month of May.
- Matchabar launched a #hustle4healthcareheroes initiative, donating cases of the brand’s Hustle energy drink to hospitals in the New York City area.
- Hydration beverage brand Electrolit has donated over $570,000 in beverages to frontline healthcare workers in New York, California and Texas.
- Spirits company Diageo North America launched #TipsFromHome, donating $1 up to $1 million to the United States Bartenders Guild each time someone shares a cocktail image using #TipsFromHome and #DiageoDonation.
- Brooklyn Crafted donated cases of its Ginger Beer to Meals for Frontlines, a campaign organized by South Brooklyn’s Wise Bar & Grill to donate prepared meals to healthcare workers. The company has also donated cases to DeRossi Global, a restaurant group offering 50 free meals a day to kids.
- Hydration brand Ultima Replenisher has teamed up with the Global Empowerment Mission to donate product to its “Coronavirus Survival Kit” for those in need, and has also partnered with Fitsnack to provide product for its “Healthcare Worker Support Box.”
- Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum launched #SupportYourArtist, a global social media campaign aimed to help raise money and awareness for tattoo artists impacted by Covid-19 by encouraging consumers to purchase their artwork, flash sheets or pre-purchase tattoos.
- In response to an increase in PPE (protective personal equipment) waste, such as gloves and masks, ending up in the ocean, Nitro Beverage Co. is donating $1 from every case sold on its website this month to the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit that works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.
- Industry trade group Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) is launching The Kombucha Heal-In, a week-long initiative from May 5-11, with the goal of providing 100,000 bottles of Kombucha to frontline workers. Consumers will be encouraged to purchase gift cards from one of the over 25 participating kombucha brewers in five different countries, and the total funds from gift card sales will be matched to purchase bottles of kombucha that will be donated during the week of May 18.