In my opinion, there are few things more inspiring than the stories of those who have overcome obstacles or objections to achieve success in whatever walk of life they are pursuing. That’s why I was so excited that Edible® employees recently had the opportunity to participate in an event at our headquarters sponsored by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame that highlighted many such stories involving amazing women from our state.
As I have written in the past, few things give me as much pleasure as seeing our Edible® team take time to give back to our community.
That was the case on Friday, April 13, when 27 incredible members of our Edible® team partnered with Junior Achievement and served as teachers for the day to 266 students at Dunbar Hill School in Hamden, CT.
Two years ago, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England inducted me into their Business Hall of Fame. It was a wonderful honor and made special because my children were there to see me accept the award. It’s no secret that I got the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. I believe it is one of our greatest responsibilities to inspire and educate the next generation.
This week, the JA torch was passed to my oldest daughter Somia, a director here at Edible. JA announced her appointment to the organization’s New Haven Advisory Board. I know that she will make a positive impact and continue to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
As Somia tells it: “I’ve grown up in an entrepreneurial family. I admire innovation and education. I’m honored to be joining the board and contributing to empowering young people through JA programs. To be able to do this in the community that I call home is special to me.”
While the refugee crisis has captured news coverage, the state of Connecticut has received displaced people for several years. This story is about how an investment from several community philanthropists, including the Tariq and Asma Farid Foundation, are giving inspiration to eight refugees who are eager to become food entrepreneurs in New Haven.
The eight, who came from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan, are participants in a new program called Kitchen Incubator, organized by CitySeed of New Haven. They are training to start a food business. The course also covers subjects in finance, marketing, legal and food safety.
Throughout the 10-week program participants are paired with an experienced mentor in small business management and have access to CitySeed’s commercial kitchen space for food preparation and testing.
On a recent Saturday morning, , participants were busy understanding product development. Working with their mentor, the participants reviewed the items needed for their own recipes and listed how many of each item was required.
“How many pounds of carrots will you need to buy if you make this dish to serve 10 people? What about the parsley and garlic for the tabouli, how much?” asked the mentor as he typed the ingredients into a spreadsheet.
“Three pounds, four bunches of parsley and three cloves,” replied the woman.
Using the spreadsheet, participants could see the volume of food they need to buy while understanding how to set prices for the product they would eventually sell. Future lessons include labeling, food safety and testing products with local chefs.
“Food brings cultures and people together,” observed Asma Farid, director of the Farid Foundation. “We hope participants get training and confidence to become food entrepreneurs and hopefully launch their own businesses.”
The holiday season is upon us and I’m taking a moment to reflect and share how Edible and employees from my companies have supported our communities this year.
Ten Edible employees – trained in Junior Achievement curriculum – volunteered for JA Day at Highland Elementary School in Wallingford, CT. Working in pairs, they taught JA’s ‘Our Community’ program. Youngsters learned about careers and how all jobs help a community.
Employees and franchise owners from across the country donated to Edible Cares™ to help gulf coast franchisees affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Their generosity, along with a corporate gift, provided nearly $20,000 to franchisees, employees and their families in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.
$20,000 of fresh fruit was donated in Los Angeles, CA; Dallas TX; Atlanta, GA and New York, NY. More locally, we supported arts, health, food and shelter organizations with product donations like chocolate dipped fruit, Edible to Go® fresh fruit cups and of course, fruit arrangements. Special thanks to the many Edible Arrangements stores who helped with our outreach efforts.
The 3-foot tall, 65-pound Incredible Edible® donated to the Eli Whitney Museum’s Leonard in Bloom Challenge (bottom right), took me back to my roots. The artists who took part in the Challenge submitted work focused on the beauty of flowers. As you know, it was flowers which seeded my inspiration to design the fresh fruit arrangements.
The Edible team delivered over 100 coats to Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, CT (top right). The coats were donated by employees from the corporate office. IRIS will distribute the coats to resettled refugees.
Employees from Netsolace, one of my technology companies, manned the assembly line at Connecticut Food Bank (top left and center & bottom left) to fill food boxes for hungry families.
I am proud of the team’s compassion and generosity to build a better future for our community. It’s true that happiness and peace can be found in acts of kindness.