The food and beverage industry continues to step up and lend support to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this roundup, we highlight brands’ efforts to give back, including Rowdy Mermaid’s donations to local Colorado nonprofits and Susosu Water’s efforts to support young and single mothers in the Washington, D.C. area.
Rowdy Mermaid Donates to Local Colorado Nonprofits
Boulder, Colorado-based kombucha brand Rowdy Mermaid is giving back to local hospitals and nonprofits during the pandemic, with a goal to donate at least 1,000 cases to organizations in need throughout the area.
Rowdy Mermaid marketing manager Michelle Dziuban said the brand has already donated products to local food banks and to Boulder Community Hospital, with 150 additional cases scheduled to go out on Monday.
“We really wanted to support the people who are helping during this crazy time and some of the people who are taking a hit because of it,” Dziuban said.
Dziuban said the brand has also connected with local nonprofit organizations such as Denver Inner City Parish, Denver’s Community Food Share (which partners with Feeding America) and We Don’t Waste, an organization that collects excess food from venues, caterers, restaurants and other local food and beverage companies and redistributes it to underserved communities in the Denver area. She said that busy food banks receiving an influx of donations connected her to other local organizations like Denver Inner City Parish, which then in turn directed her to We Don’t Waste.
“It’s really cool to connect with the community and see how close-knit they all are,” she said.
The brand is also in discussion with local school districts to donate products, and has at this time allocated less than half of its 1,000 cases for donation and is seeking additional nonprofits partners in need in the area. Dziuban said that while the brand had hoped to make donations to homeless shelters, they are not accepting donations of kombucha due to the small percentage of alcohol typically found in kombucha products.
Because Rowdy Mermaid does not currently have an e-commerce platform — though Dziuban said it is currently in development — the brand has partnered with two local wholesale and foodservice distribution companies who have themselves pivoted their businesses due to the pandemic. Wholesale distributor Solis moved online during the pandemic and now offers products from Colorado-based brands to consumers for 50% off, while restaurant ingredient provider Atlamira has now opened its warehouse to the public for home delivery. Solis is also offering local brands like Upstart Kombucha and coconut water maker CocoRidge, while Atlamira also offers Denver-based tea soda brand Teatulia.
“We’re all human and we’re all in this together and we’re not just trying to sell a product and make money, we’re trying to solve a problem and help people,” Dziuban said.
Susosu Water Supports Young and Single Mothers in Need
Virginia-based mineral water brand Susosu Water has partnered with Empowered Mums, a local nonprofit focused on supporting young and single mothers, on its new “For Mums We Stand” campaign. Susosu Water will donate product and a portion of its profits to the campaign, which delivers groceries and other necessities to mothers impacted by the pandemic in the Washington D.C. area in association with nonprofits VirusCure and Hearts of Empowerment.
Susosu Water co-founder and CEO Jheen Oh said he was already familiar with Empowered Mums founder Amy Montoya, who is a loyal customer of the brand.
“I saw her post on LinkedIn about her nonprofit organization and immediately had to reach out as I really believed in her vision and mission and what she was doing it for,” he said.
Susosu Water has donated cases of water to be distributed to local mothers in the area, and is also donating 10% of its e-commerce sales to the cause. Oh said the campaign officially launched on Mother’s Day and has since received an “outpour of support” as the organization has been able to donate to mothers in Washington, D.C, Virginia and Maryland. Those in need of support can fill out an application at empoweredmums.org/for-mums-we-stand, where monetary donations to the campaign are also being accepted.
Borden Selected to Participate in USDA Farmers to Families Food Box
Dairy company Borden has been awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which is part of its Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP), according to a press release. Through the CFAP, the USDA is purchasing and distributing $3 million worth of agricultural products, including milk, produce and meat, while also working with local and regional distributors who have been affected by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other foodservice operations.
Starting today, Borden will begin supplying 700 million servings of fresh milk to qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations in the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest regions.
“Borden applauds the USDA for taking this monumental step to ensure that Americans have convenient access to nutrition during this difficult time in our nation’s history,” said Borden CEO Tony Sarsam in the release. “This USDA contract allows Borden to exponentially grow our coronavirus relief efforts that are already underway. The 3,300 people of Borden are incredibly proud to further support our communities and eager to begin fulfilling more donation requests immediately.”
Other dairy companies donating milk to several regions through the program include Illinois’ Prairie Farms.
Other Good News From Around the Industry:
- Lifeway Foods has donated more than 70,000 servings of probiotic kefir to food banks, shelters and hospitals nationwide. For its employees, the company has launched the Lifeway Hero Award program which offers hourly bonuses to production and warehouse workers.
- Toronto’s Tonica Kombucha donated $1,000 to the George Hull Centre for Children & Families to help support its essential services during the crisis. The brand is also providing 1,500 meals per month to Feed Ontario.
- Plant-based protein brand Aloha donated the monetary equivalent of 5,000 N95 masks to West Hawaii Community Health Center, and also donated over 3,000 cases (36,000 bottles) of its Vanilla Protein Shakes to the University of Chicago Medical System.
- Coffee company Snowing in Space announced the release of new whole bean coffee blend “Frontline Fuel.” For each purchase of the new blend, the company will donate a bag to Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
- FORTO Coffee along with co-owner Shaquille O’Neal are donating 1 million 2 oz. coffee shots to first responders and medical professionals.
- California-based organic tequila brand Solento Tequila has partnered with the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation, 101 Mainstreets and the Harbaugh Foundation to hold a raffle donating 100% of the proceeds to the Encinitas Support Fund. Funds raised from the Solento Family Relief Raffle will be given back to the community through small grants for local shops.
- North Carolina-based brand Tama Tea has donated 2,200 cans to Wilmington’s New Hannover Regional Medical Center.
- Rainwater brand Heart Water has donated hundreds of thousands “I Heart” water cans to be distributed throughout the next month to hospitals in areas like New York City, Los Angeles and Austin.
- Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit released a limited-edition expression, Sagamore Spirit Barrel Select Bartender’s Barrel, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Baltimore Bartender’s Guild.
- Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram Jr. donated products from hydration mix brand DripDrop ORS to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition, over 350 hospitals in more than 20 states have received DripDrop donations to date.
- Purity Organic and Sweet Leaf Tea have partnered with rapper Trippie Redd to donate 30,000 bottles of organic beverages to frontline healthcare workers across the country including New York City, Los Angeles and his hometown of Canton, Ohio.