Sam Polk, the founding father of an modern new enterprise, Everytable, that brings nutritious meals to underserved areas, would by no means have discovered his calling if not for the Great Recession.
Polk was a younger hedge fund dealer within the go-go years of the housing bubble, when greed reached its vertiginous limits. Then all the pieces imploded within the fall of 2008. For Polk, it was a blessing in disguise.
“I was climbing up the ranks, and by 30 I was the senior trader for one of the largest hedge funds in the world,” he remembers. “I was there during the crash, watching Wall Street freak out over losing a lot of money.”
It was a second of reckoning for Polk. “I didn’t like where I was in the world, and I was reading Taylor Branch’s books about Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders. I had a desire to do something other than make more money for rich people.”
Even as a toddler, Polk wasn’t utterly unaware of America’s class inequities. “I grew up in Glendale. My mom was a nurse practitioner and she used to take us down to Skid Row to give us some perspective.”
He additionally vividly remembers the unrest following the Rodney King trial in 1992 and the devastation that modified the face of South L.A., robbing it of many grocery shops and different important retail companies.
In 2013, Polk began Groceryships. “It was a nonprofit that helped parents living in food deserts get themselves and their families healthy,” he says. The holistic, community-led program addressed well being points in myriad methods: cooking lessons, diet training, emotional help teams. “There’s a direct relationship between depression and childhood trauma and unhealthy eating,” Polk factors out.
Everytable’s Hoover retailer
In 2014, a personal fairness dealer named David Foster was pulled into Polk’s orbit. Like Polk, he was in search of a method to give again to his group. “He had left his private equity job and had read my writing,” Polk remembers. “He volunteered for Groceryships and that went well, so he came on board full-time.”
It was a wonderful match. “David has one of the smartest financial minds I’ve ever seen,” Polk says.
The two launched Everytable in 2015. “We wanted to test a simple but revolutionary for-profit model that makes it possible to create healthy food from scratch for roughly the same price as fast food.”
All of the Everytable meals is ready at a central kitchen by veteran cooks, then packaged in grab-and-go containers and distributed to its 5 shops in downtown L.A., South L.A., Baldwin Hills, Century City and Santa Monica (there shall be 5 extra inside the yr). The eating places are small, sometimes 500 to 1,000 sq. ft, with no in-house kitchen. “They cost $200,000 to build out, versus $1.5 million for a typical restaurant,” Polk says. This stripped-down method requires solely two workers per shift.
Jamaican jerk rooster
Working with native growers and suppliers, Everytable creates nutritious and engaging meals for about the identical worth per serving as quick meals: as little as $four.50 to $6 in areas the place households earn effectively beneath the citywide common wage. In different areas, costs are larger, set by the monetary demographics of the neighborhood.
In the South L.A. location at 1101 W. 23rd St., one of the crucial well-liked gadgets — Jamaican jerk rooster with coconut rice and beans, kale, carrots, plantains and a spicy barbecue sauce — sells for $four.95.
Polk imagines his mannequin being duplicated wherever there’s a necessity. “Everytable could be replicated thousands of times. Healthy food is a human right. In some places, you get hungry for lunch and there’s nothing healthy to buy.”
Even buyers extra motivated by cash than empathy are impressed with Everytable, Polk says. “It’s easily franchise-able and inexpensive. We are able to access capital from major restaurant investors and several foundations. This is an incredibly scalable model.”
Underneath all of it, although, the need to do good is inevitably an enormous motivator for everybody. “It’s a deeply social mission–driven business,” Polk says. “People identify with that.”