Everytable tries to make healthy food as affordable as fast food

It’s all about marketing, says LaToya Meaders, president and co-founder of Collective Fare, a coffee shop and catering company in Brownsville, Brooklyn. In Brownsville, the main avenues are parade of fast food, fried chicken, seafood, and soul food restaurants, and national brands like McDonald’s have cachet.

Group fare has thrived, Ms. Meders says, through community integration — serving vegetable-rich macaroni and cheese alongside fried chicken sandwiches — and hiring from the neighborhood. “People don’t want to be told what you think they like,” she said. “In these societies, they get enough.”

However, Ms. Meders remains optimistic that with the right marketing, Everytable can overcome this kind of skepticism. You may open a franchise right through the company’s Social Equity Franchise Program, which is in the process of raising a $20 million debt fund to support and train black entrepreneurs and put them on the path to owning and operating an Everytable store. It’s also in talks to collaborate with the company to create a signature New York dish, similar to Everytable’s Trap Kitchen chicken curry, developed by black chefs in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton. “There is a danger that a white man will come and say, ‘You have to eat this way,’” she said. “But we can say: We are petrified with him.”

Another concern: whether Everytable food is actually affordable enough for the poorest Americans. Adam Drewonsky, a University of Washington professor of epidemiology and a leading researcher on social disparities and health, said he has been encouraged by the Everytable model, particularly its focus on prepared foods, which help those short of time and money. . But he noted that even with the recent increase in food stamp benefits, the federal government’s Thrifty Food Plan, an estimate of the cost of a minimum nutritionally adequate diet, allocates just $6.89 for an entire day of calories.

In the end, though, the audience will likely decide Everytable’s fate. And predicting what people will embrace at mealtime is a tricky proposition. For Katrina Barber, at least, a 31-year-old photographer, Everytable does. She discovered it during the pandemic after she lost her job in Austin, Texas, and moved to Los Angeles. Money was and still is scarce. Since Ms. Barber isn’t much of a cook, she finds herself ordering chicken or carnitas at Everytable in University Park twice a week.

Ms. Barber is passionate about Everytable’s mission, but her loyalty is boosted by her low prices. “I love spending $6 on something that tastes like a $10 meal,” she said. “Instead of going to Burger King or Taco Bell and spending the same amount, I can have a nutritious meal that tastes really good.”

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