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Social Equity Through Food

 
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Fury Foods SBC is a specific benefit corporation that, through its business practices and relationships, promotes social equity while providing high quality globally inspired cuisine to the community via its retail business, Just Bowls LLC.      

 

 

Social Equity: opportunity to thrive economically and personally

 

Fury Foods and its retail business, Just Bowls, join with their nonprofit partner, Meet Me in the Middle, to build and sustain the lives of those most impacted by the culture of marginalization. Its open hiring and ongoing personal and professional support practices create the environment and conditions where hope and opportunity thrive in order to build better futures and lives.  Through respect and corporate economic equality for all involved we create a culture of empowerment.

 

 

The Food:  fresh, saucy, eclectic and global

 

Our bowls symbolize unity and equality while offering our chefs endless possibilities for creating new combinations of bowl bases, sauces, and toppings.  Fury Foods’ skilled chefs and food teams produce a rotating menu of locally-sourced and organic (when possible) bowls for the hungry consumer.  A feast of robust flavors with a socially conscious message.  We focus on rich flavors and sound culinary expertise through engagement of local growers and the food community.

 

 

The People: a culture of respect and opportunity

 

Strategic positions and ownership include members of the community that have been left out of the economy and the general conversation around food.  Fury Foods brings diverse people together to create a vital business through building a vital community.  Intentional operations and outreach practices support the vitality and growth of the community and our business environment.

 

 

The Plan:  broad in scope to benefit many

 

To create and implement a model of business and social equity that is successful, sustainable, and replicable nationally to benefit more.  

 

 

 

 

MANAGING PARTNER

NICHOLAS COLLINS

 

 

 

 

 

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 Just Bowls

 

Overview of Business

Just Bowls, a quick service, casual concept from Fury Foods, combines locally sourced, real food/slow food with the goal of living-wage jobs for those without a place at the economic table. Through collaborations with nonprofits and other groups focused on social equity, Just Bowls’ goal is to not only produce globally inspired and desirable products at an industry-standard profit, but to also positively impact the larger community. This is an entrepreneurial endeavor that uses profit to benefit youth and adults who haven’t real opportunities with which to sustain their lives. 

Current Problems In QSR’s

While quick service restaurants meet many interests of consumers, there are some negative outcomes as a result of approaches taken by the industry as a whole. Those approaches and outcomes include:

  • Lack of commitment to safe food handling and poor training, leading to unsafe food
  • Low pay for everyone but owners keeping workers unable to sustain themselves
  • Consistent in hiring workers of color for low-level positions and whites for high-level positions thereby reinforcing the system of social and economic inequality

Solutions    

By design, Just Bowls addresses the above issues in the following ways:

  • Ensuring food safety through a systematic preventive approach (H.A.C.C.P) and consistent training of all staff 
  • Paying living wages through thoughtful product pricing, diversifying revenue streams, and sharing profits equitably
  • Preparing underserved youth for self-reliant futures through hiring, training and mentoring them with our nonprofit partner,
  • Promoting the business and packaging food in unique ways that help consumers see who their food dollars support
  • Hiring people from all backgrounds who are committed to work and learn
  • Systematically training and supporting staff in ways that help keep people on the job
  • Offering a vertical system of promoting—a real opportunity to advance
  • Aligning with like-minded groups, organizations and individuals to promote the mission of social equity

 

Market Opportunity

We see an opportunity to meet the food consumption demands of a particular demographic—young adults and aging adults who frequent QSRs and who have a global and somewhat adventurous palate.  

By being intentional about location, and promoting our food as a way to sustain young and marginalized lives, we can be profitable on economic and human levels.  The production site and some retail will be on the light rail  corridor between the two urban centers on University Avenue near 280 in St. Paul. In addition, price points will be set to appeal to conscious consumers and to also provide employment and sustainability for many.  Few retailers endeavor to serve both consumer and employee in this regard.  

Competitive Advantage

Our advantage is related to the above opportunities: the Just Bowls menu reflects the desires and needs of diverse informed consumers while the social message reflects their interest in social justice and in making a difference with their choice of where they spend their money. Fresh food provided by staff trained in culinary arts, as well as food safety, and at a price point competitive with those currently offered by other QSR's (providing rice and beans and little more) make Just Bowls an attractive choice and an unusual one given its social message and financial support of the nonprofit entity.

Business Model—Fury Foods SBC and Just Bowls LLC

Fury Foods as the originating enterprise has control and auspice over several revenue streams and a retail presence through local grocers and larger natural food chains.  Its production site prepares food for the Just Bowl quick service sites (allowing streamlining and sharing of labor), community meals, a catering program, and for programs that are currently underserved in the marketplace (seniors, ethnic, etc.).  In the marketplace it serves as a food training site and incubator of and for staffing solutions.  Integrated within all this is the training of youth being served by our nonprofit partners.

This model acts as the organic conduit for the research and development for Just Bowls retail sites, and the subsequent entry level staffing that it requires, preparing these individuals for stakeholder positions in the entity.

Current point of sale technologies give us the grasp and command of cost and planning to align with social media platforms in order to enhance metrics, such as profitability. They also allow us to maintain and sustain the triple bottom line approach as a specific benefit corporation—social, financial and environmental.

Data security, affordable healthcare, rigid H.A.C.C.P. controls and real living wages that reflect our values and commitment in all areas of operation contribute to the triple bottom line.

In addition to the culinary team, there is the requisite dietitian/nutritionist on staff.  Approaches include a commitment to sustainability, our relationship with like-minded vendors, and consciousness about the products we use.

Price points of the Just Bowls menu are meant to reflect an ongoing desire to not only please the consumer, but also to reflect our commitment to remedying the needs of our community—in other words, to providing for all staff in a conscious and intentional manner. 

Sustainability

The need to prosper and sustain both people of the FF/MMM community and the fast and casual food service that is Just Bowls requires a price point that is very competitive with what the current market trends dictate.  These prices and subsequent cost controls reflect our desires to:

  • Manage daily menu changes as needed
  • Manage seasonal commodity price fluctuations
  • Consciously recycle
  • Prevent data security loss 
  • Maintain a flexible human resource capacity

Furthermore, by vertically integrating our culture with vendors of measurable skill sets, we can best utilize the convenience of technology to measure profitability and increase profit margins.  Our “prime cost” that would emanate from the “spoke and wheel” dynamic of having a commissary location allows for genuine strategic vision, as well as community alignment and support from within our nexus and outside its sphere.

In a nutshell we aim to create and implement a model for business and social equity that is successful, sustainable, and replicable nationally to benefit more.  

 

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JUST BOWLS MENU

Quick Service. Slow Food.

 

Small Bowls

 

Oven Roasted Spiced Duck

Falafel Chimichurri

Lao Chicken Wings, Roasted Mushrooms, Stir Fried Celery

Bucatini Bolognese

Lamb & Pork Ragu Tagliatele

Pan Fried Sweetbreads, Parmesan Crisp, Smoked Eggplant Puree

 

Large Bowls

Smoked Beef Cheeks, Basmati Rice, Charred Scallions, Braised Lentils

Roasted Thai Style Chicken, Shredded Green Papaya, Steamed Farro

Jerk Chicken, Smashed Sweet Potato, Basil Pineapple Syrup

Stir Fried Pork Belly, Radish, Black Beans, Shiso, Mint

Roasted Crispy Chicken, Barley, Kale, Black Eyed Peas

Brined Smoked Heirloom Turkey, Mac-n-Cheese

Market Fresh Fish, Citrus Spinach & Fennel Butter

Green Curry Noodles w/Caramelized Pork

Brisket Ramen w/Kimchi

Beet Root Burger w/Feta

Sweet Potato Chickpea Spinach Curry

Root Vegetable Salad

Wild Rice Brussel Sprouts

Sesame Roasted Kale

 

Sides

Creamy Polenta

Stone Ground Heirloom Grits

Farro

Basmati Rice Brown or White

Collard Greens

Barley

Soft Boiled Egg

 

Toppings

Fried Onions

Charred Scallions

Sweet Potato Relish

Tamarind Vinaigrette

Minted Carrots

 

Desserts

Sorbet

Banana Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate w/Peanut Praline

Rum Drunk Doughnuts, Caramelized Apple, Milk Powder Crumb

 

Beverages

Wines & Local Craft Beers

Coffee & Artisanal Teas

Fresh Juices

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Meet Me in the Middle Narrative

 

Advocacy, Life Coaching & Opportunities for Urban Youth

 


Organizational Summary

Meet Me In The Middle, a start-up youth development organization that received 501(3) designation in April 2015, has developed two program models to provide comprehensive, specialized support and opportunities for pre-adjudicated youth in the urban area. 

The first program, Urban Protégé, http://urbanprotege.net. offers deep support for youth through a one-on-one relationship with a life coach.  The second, A Place at the Table, offers potential broad support through quarterly forums—facilitated discussions between adults who impact youths’ lives and the youths themselves.  Meet Me In The Middle as the organization provides work-readiness and employment opportunities, as well as, in the future, a site for meeting and activities.

Involved in the visioning and planning were community members and practitioners, while conversations and interactions with hundreds of youth inspired and shaped both.

Integral to model implementation will be partnerships with like-minded entities such as businesses (including our social enterprise partner), schools, local government, social service agencies and foundations.  

Expected referral resources will be schools, agencies, and juvenile corrections.  Outcomes expected for participating youth include developing social emotional health and achieving their own educational and career goals.

Staff during the pilot stage looks as such: two professional life coaches, a technology and multi-media production professional, and an executive director.  Independent contractors, interns and hands-on board members supplement staffing the first year. 

Presently the originators are inviting individuals and groups who share a similar mission to join us to make the model a reality.

 

Description of Need

Researchers and youth advocates report that while specialized and comprehensive services are needed and effective for pre-adjudicated youth—especially mentoring programs with non-voluntary experienced mentors—few such programs exist nationwide.  According to Marian Wright Edelman, head of The Children’s Defense Fund, “Most mentoring programs are good ideas but not well implemented…. They don’t build the conditions and environments” in which to meaningfully engage adolescents nor offer opportunities that stretch their horizons. 

In contrast to non-inner city and suburban teens in the Twin Cities area, many urban youth lack the conditions, opportunities and environment that provide hope, let alone a pathway for a respectful life. Local and national studies say that Minnesota low-income, particularly-of-color teens:

  • Report frequent violence and other unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods and home environments;
  • Are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.  Most of the 1,100 adolescents who have been detained in Hennepin County yearly (an average) since 2012 fit this economic and race demographic;
  • Don’t attend school regularly or at all.  (22.5% of black youth are neither in school nor employed in Minnesota, while 7.2% of white youth are not.  Latino and Native youth fall in the middle of this discrepancy.)
  • Experience higher rates than other youth of poverty, trauma, stress, PTSD, abuse, drug use, exposure to gun violence, neglect, STD’s and pregnancy.

(List of resources available upon request.)

 

Programming and Services that Fit

The Meet Me in the Middle model offers comprehensive, specialized support for pre-adjudicated youth and the needed conditions and opportunities through two programs: Urban Protégé and A Place at the Table.  In addition, a supportive environment is provided in our model by future development of a welcoming youth center for the MMM community. 

 

Relationships to Rely On

In the Urban Protégé program, experienced life coaches extend youth deep, ongoing support and advocacy.  Youth participate, upon referral, in an assessment process that defines strengths and needs.  When complete, the protégé meets with the life coach and family members to design their own action plan that follows a sequenced structure.  Components of the plan include developing social emotional health and developing and attaining educational and career goals. 

Coaches (initially 1 per 5-7 youth) serve as “brokers” in a sense, linking protégés with resources such as agencies, community members, schools, etc.  They serve further as advocates by building bridges and solutions with the same resources as well as with family members, juvenile corrections (if needed) employers, and other involved entities.  

Initially, coaches do heavy lifting in the relationship: they arrange and show up for bi-weekly meetings with school staff, for sports events or other activities the protégé may be involved in; and they engage in their protégés work-readiness training, introduce them to their employers, and support them on the job in partnership with the employer.  Generally speaking, they make themselves a fixture in their youth’s lives.

As protégés maintain their goals, we expect the coach/youth relationship to become less intense, allowing the protégé to stretch and take on more independence and the coach to take on additional youth.

 

Opportunities, Experiences and Community

The Meet Me in the Middle model offers youth many opportunities, key of which is paid employment that takes them closer to their life goals.  Protégés, once they maintain a level of performance in school, community and their entry-level job, may choose to segue into a living-wage position at the production or retail sites of Fury Foods, our social enterprise partner.  Fury Foods, a start-up social benefit corporation, is developing a brand called Just Bowls—fresh-food-quick-service retail sites—whose purpose is to be a training site and stream revenue for MMM protégés who will be the staff and managers.  Within a dynamic, professional work setting, protégés will experience:

  • Individualized training and on-the–job coaching by a team, including award winning chefs;
  • An extended, supportive community that exemplifies passion for personal and professional success;
  • Real opportunities to advance into entrepreneurial and food and non-food production work in the Twin Cities and beyond;
  • Life, work, and social skills coaching and practice that will aid them in whatever future they choose.

 

Besides work opportunities, Meet Me in the Middle expects to regularly provide: 

  • Cultural outings such as museums, spoken word and music events; 
  • Participation in music and other artistic performances; 
  • Visits to local colleges and post-high school programs;  
  • Camping and hiking trips;
  • A professional multi-media studio for music and video production taught by two individuals: a seven-time Emmy Award winner videographer and a skilled music producer;
  • A vibrant website and YouTube channel on which youth post their creations;
  • Discussions on relevant topics relevant to protégés’ daily lives. 

 

And finally, Meet Me in the Middle’s second program, A Place at the Table, offers broad potential support through hosting regular forums in which adults who impact young lives listen to protégés’ ideas and discuss them over a meal.  Participants, who normally don’t talk with one another about the youth they serve, could include police, politicians, juvenile corrections, educators, agencies, foundations, and family and community members.  Also part of this group would be the protégé “sponsors”—individual attorneys matched with protégés to support them in relevant ways. 

This program, in addition to providing influential adults an opportunity to talk with one another, also empowers youth by giving them a chance to speak and be heard.  In turn, Meet Me in the Middle can collect valuable insights and information that can shape evolving programs.

     

 

A Safe, Welcoming Environment

 

We have seen in our work with youth that providing respectful, nurturing conditions and a welcoming, safe environment sends an important message to them.  They see and feel that they are valued, important and cared for.  This fundamental recognition on their part translates to engagement.  

This is why at Meet Me in the Middle we have included in our implementation plan a permanent site in which to build our community. We’ve identified a Green Line site (see photos and architectural drawing) and begun planning the interior to include:

  • A large kitchen/dining space to share meals and learn cooking skills;
  • A central activity room for academic work, group meetings, a popular book section, lounge area with television, and presentations;
  • Small conference rooms for individual protégé/family/coach use;
  • A multi-media and studio for music and video production;
  • Dormitory rooms for recommended protégés (phase three);
  • Easy access to Fury Foods next door for training, employment and events. 

 

 

Impact and Outcomes

Fully implemented, Meet Me in the Middle will impact both individual youth and the community that support them.  And in a step beyond that, impact will likely register as well with consumers who buy Just Bowl products made and sold by protégés.

 

1.  Impact on Youth.  

Assessment will be ongoing using a variety of methods.  Outcomes we expect to see for protégés at the end of our first year are that they are: 

  • Attending school regularly; 
  • Training in work-readiness and social-skills and then employed; 
  • Free of unlawful and/or hurtful behavior towards self or others.

 

2.  Impact on the Meet Me in the Middle Community.  

While A Place at the Table will bring diverse people together for a potentially rich experience, we don’t know what the impact exactly will be on individuals. What impact on a protégé may occur when the police chief and/or their attorney sponsor or a Viking player show up for him or her?  And what impact on ALL may occur when people at both ends of the social, economic and racial spectrums get together over food, listen to kids and discuss their ideas?

In addition, our lively website (being developed now) will include a bi-weekly narrative about one or more protégés or MMM community members in the belief that stories break barriers.  By the end of 2016, the site will host youth music, art, videos and poetry as will our YouTube channel soon afterwards. Regular updates by staff and others will document the process of building a diverse, supportive community from the ground up and so extend the dialogue of social inclusion outward.

 

3.  Impact on Consumer, the Wider Community.  

    Our partnership with Fury Foods opens a door to greater visibility for MMM, the protégés and our mission in two ways:  

  • Protégés will staff and manage, by Phase 3 of our implementation plan, Just Bowls retail sites; 
  • Product packaging will include a reference to the youth and the mission. 

 

It is our hope that by providing opportunities for many interactions between MMM protégés and Just Bowls, barriers will fall, more understanding achieved, and all feel more included and empowered in our community.

 

 

 

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Development Phases

 

Phase One

     FF

  • Building partnerships and support with community
  • Acquisition of production kitchen/MMM site
  • Develop revenue streams
  • Sustainability, H.A.A.C.P. plans completed
  • Culture and human resource development with MMM
  • Mentor MMM youth for entry-level work in a professional kitchen
  • Logo/brand development
  • Fundraising

 

    MMM            

  • Urban Protégé pilot begins Sept. 2016 at temporary site with 2 life coaches, 14 youth with family members, and support staff
  • Build partnerships with schools, family, organizations, and businesses
  • Build and train base of protégé sponsors; host two A Place at the Table events
  • Enhance website, presence on social media
  • Funding—grants, donations, partners

Phase Two

                              

     FF

  • Vendor/grower/industry partnerships
  • Complete build out
  • Marketing plan complete
  • Professional staff hiring 
  • Hiring and training youth interns, others
  • Logo/brand development
  • Fundraising
  • Revenue begins to support MMM

 

MMM

  • Move into permanent space on Light Rail
  • 5 life coaches with 35 protégés plus family members and additional adolescents for specific open activities and/or events
  • Assess and tweak all aspects of model  
  • Comprehensive staff training with FF
  • More protégés employed, some with FF 
  • 4-per-year A Place at the Table events 
  • Protégés make videos, manage website
  • Funding—grants, donations, partners

Phase Three

     FF

  • Just Bowls site location/build out set up
  • Menu research and development
  • Marketing and brand development
  • Retail presence in place
  • Revenue streams maintained
  • Protégés enter Just Bowls retail work
  • Fundraising
  • Revenue supports MMM

 

 MMM

  • On-site dormitory floor with night staff
  • 7 life coaches; 49 youth plus others
  • Partnerships with large-scale foundations and groups for replication and expansion
  • Protégés work at FF production site, Just Bowls retail sites and elsewhere
  • Protégés peer mentor younger protégés
  • Visibility increases through FF packaging that tells stories of youth/adults 
  • Funding—moves to support through FF