As you scurry through your busy weekday juggling a diverse range of responsibilities, you find little time to offer yourself a balanced plate of nutrition. And when an endless variety of junk food is available at a bargain, who would opt for pricey organic leafy greens, boiled legumes or exotic fruits?
The ‘food deserts’ of USA
Healthy food – the term itself has turned into quite an oxymoron in the USA, the uncontested hub of fast food. At the same time, USA reports one of the highest occurrences of obesity and related health conditions. Comfort and convenience win over nutritional value as parents continue to expose their children to junk food from a very tender age. Eating vegetables is quite a cumbersome ritual in most homes. This practice has led to the growth of ‘food deserts’ in urban settlements across the USA, which are basically low-income areas devoid of all options to find healthy food.
How ‘Everytable’ is addressing the crisis
However, lately, there has been a surge in inclination towards healthy food. Conscious individuals are urging the community to switch to healthier dietary habits. But, the unaffordability of healthy food remains a major roadblock. That is where ‘Everytable’ comes in. Based in the tinsel town of Los Angeles, this ‘revolutionary restaurant’ serves uniquely crafted healthy meals, at the low price rates of unhealthy fries, nuggets, burgers or soda. In fact, Everytable offers two separate price ranges depending upon the neighbourhood, with special discounted rates for ‘food deserts’ in less privileged communities. The ‘made-from-scratch meals’, as they describe in their website, aim to dissolve the food deserts in South LA where the restaurant chain has expanded its branches.
How Everytable started to reach every table in LA
Everytable founder Sam Polk had earlier started the healthy food venture ‘Feast’ in 2013, to combat the nutritional crisis in South Los Angeles. It is a relatively less affluent zone dotted with food deserts, far from the glitz and luxury of the LA we see in movies. Polk’s non-profit ‘Feast’ organised healthy-cooking workshops and conducted nutrition awareness sessions among the citizens. Their primary aim to target the alarming rates of obesity and diabetes in these regions.
However, soon, the founders discovered that even after all these, people had little choice but to buy junk food on the go. Healthy eateries were scarce among the thriving fast food joints that outlined the deprived territory.
Later, in 2015, Sam and his colleague David Foster launched their own healthy food restaurant Everytable. Their business model was aligned with that of McDonald’s, which had once brought an unwelcome revolution on America’s eating habits. Everytable stood out among all their fast-food counterparts only because of their unbelievable prices for chef-crafted wholesome, healthy meals.
Since the menu is dependent on fresh farm produce, the meals are vibrant and vary with seasons. In addition, the restaurant also features a special menu for the kids. They can look over the heaps of french fries, pizza and burgers to dig into turkey-quinoa meatballs & spaghetti, barbecued chicken salad or superfood cookies.
Everytable found an investor in Elon Musk’s brother
At the Everytable outlets across South LA, the price ranges vary within $5 to $8. Chefs harness the fresh, local produce for curating steaming bowls of delicacy that don’t spike the blood glucose or cholesterol levels. Their grab-and-go storefronts have been set up tactically in food deserts where the prices never go beyond $5. At more affluent areas, the dishes may cost higher, but the maximum price is capped at $8. All the leftover food is distributed for free among the homeless every day. Talking to Business Insider, Polk said, “Stores in food deserts are self-sustaining, while stores in more affluent areas help us grow.”
The idea of Everytable is definitely a laudable concept and has not taken much time to attract heavyweight investors including Acumen, Chipotle and Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk.
At a concerning time when urban areas in India are catching up rampantly with fast food fever, such a concept might seem a far cry. But this model, if conceptualised here, can solve India’s food distribution discrepancy, where one section of the population is starving whereas the other is being saturated with unhealthy food.