What first began as an effort to sneak more vegetables into her son’s diet has become a social enterprise that helps provide nutrition resources and education for the community.
In 2017, Anique Russell started Too Good Eats with husband, Ali, by creating popsicles and juices made from diverse fruits and vegetables for her children.
Anique attributes her inspiration for a clean food company to a family history of health complications and chronic illness.
“A lot of my family members passed away, people that are really close to me, like my aunt and my grandmother, from health issues that could have been prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle,” she says. “So, when I had my own children, I wanted to change the health trajectory.”
Anique made sure, however, that the company’s signature product was still a tasty treat for her customers, despite being free from common frozen dessert ingredients like dairy, gluten and added sugars.
“Taste is the first and most important ingredient to us,” she says. “We just want to give people an experience that, you can eat healthy things and it still tastes great.”
But feeding her family with delicious, healthy treats was just the beginning of Anique’s journey. She knew she wanted to expand her talent to help the neighborhood.
“I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate our community because I understand that there’s a lot of work that we need to do as far as figuring out how we can help our community eat better,” Anique says.
By partnering with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Too Good Eats donated “frozen pops” every summer, eventually developing a buy one, give one model to get others in the community involved.
Community has always been a priority for the founder, giving those without access to a range of fruits and veggies a chance at living a healthy lifestyle. Ingredients like dragon fruit and rutabaga allow for customers to explore new ways of getting their daily nutrients through an approach that is easy and fun.
“We’re showing people that there’s so many different types of fruits and vegetables out here, and then people are exposed to that,” Anique says. “Then they’ll be likely to choose those different types of foods when they go to the grocery store, because I find that the initial barrier is just trying it out and just knowing what’s available to you.”
Another barrier, Anique explains, is the disparity of nutritional education and awareness for those who are receiving assistance through SNAP and other government supplemental programs.
“None of these government-funded programs are actually teaching people how to be healthy. And that is where I feel the gap is because, if you’re offering SNAP, yeah, you can go to the store, but your behavior, your habits are not changing,” she says. “So, I just want to teach people that eating fruits and vegetables is a lot of fun. You can do so many things with it and it tastes really good.”
Pre-COVID, Too Good Eats gained the most revenue and attention through events and catering, which has since been put on hold, causing the social entrepreneur to find new ways for community outreach.
One of these ways included utilizing digital marketing to launch a Too Good Eats delivery service, where customers can order a six-pack of popsicles, flavored differently each week. After receiving an array of praise for the program, Anique and her team released their latest product, a Popsicle Party Kit, complete with a variety of flavors and sprinkles for families to build their own pops.
The entrepreneur also plans to widen her social impact reach by adopting an employment model, helping families make residual income by selling frozen treats through a popsicle cart training program that Too Good Eats plans to roll out in the new year.
“It’ll start as a small cohort with maybe six to 10 people who are interested, and then we’ll show some of them how to operate,” Anique explains. “They’ll stock the cart with Too Good Eats pops, but then they’ll have free range to go out in the community and make residual income on their own.”
Anique, who recently received an MBA from the Fischer College of Business at OSU, also hopes to use her own knowledge to teach program participants how to run and manage their own business and finances.
With a challenging year behind them, the future looks bright for this frozen treat and juice company. From launching new products and programs, to a potential Too Good Eats café in the works, Anique and her team continue going the extra mile to ensure that their community has resources to access clean and tasty food.
“We focus on helping our Too Good Eats family, a.k.a. our customers,” she says. “We help them eat and live “too good” by prioritizing really healthy ingredients. People aren’t that knowledgeable about what’s available to them, so we wanted to showcase that these types of foods can be exciting and very delicious.”
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