Heart, Soul, & Cereal
After meeting families who couldn’t afford to put food on the table, Megan Shea and Chip Heim started The Soulfull Project, a “buy one, give one” line of hot cereals
“Visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.” At this festive time of year, the lucky among us are happily enjoying an array of holiday treats. But the spirit of the season also encourages us to be aware of those less fortunate— especially when it comes to food.
Over 40 million Americans are “food insecure,” which is defi ned by the USDA as “a household- level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” This means that almost 13 percent of American households, including 13 million children, have to reduce or skip meals and have little or no access to nutritious provisions. And sometimes, they go an entire day with no food at all.
When we see this condition portrayed in Tiny Tim’s family in “A Christmas Carol,” it seems distant and almost charming. But the reality is harsh and injurious, and especially painful during the holidays, awash in societal good cheer.
One pair of employees at food giant Campbell Soup Company found themselves moved to make a diff erence.
It Started with Two Starving Families
Megan Shea and Chip Heim were doing market research, visiting homes in Texas to learn about people’s food habits, when they encountered a family uncertain about where to get their next meal. The pair decided to do something about it.
But as Shea says, “A year went by, and we had done nothing. Life got in the way.” Then, late one night when they were working at a warehouse in Camden, N. J., a mom and her kids came knocking at the door, asking for food. And Shea and Heim were reminded of their broken promise to help. That night, The Soulfull Project was born.
Hot Breakfast Cereal for All
They hit upon the notion of creating and selling healthy hot breakfast cereals that could be a part of a “buy one, give one” model in concert with food banks across the country. For every serving sold, The Soulfull Project donates a serving of their Four Grain cereal to a local food bank where the product was purchased. “Soulfull is about equality,” says Heim. “Everyone deserves to have good, wholesome food regardless of [ how much money] they make.”
As of last August, The Soulfull Project had donated more than 1 million servings. The cereals are made with non- GMO, clean- label ingredients, and come in a variety of sizes and fl avors, including Brown Sugar Pecan Multigrain Cereal and Blueberry Almond Multigrain Cereal.
For Shea and Heim, the connection is personal; they are determined to volunteer at all 200 of their food bank partners across the country. “So far we have been to more than 100,” says Shay. “We’ve met the most amazing people. They inspire us and keep us going.”
But even that’s not enough. “When you see a parent struggle to feed their children or you meet someone who can’t aff ord their next meal, we feel like we aren’t moving fast enough. We need to go faster, but we can’t do it alone. We need help and that’s why we called it a ‘ project.’ We are all in it together, and together we can make a real diff erence.” Now that’s the true holiday spirit.
“Soulfull is about equality,” says Heim, cofounder of The Soulfull Project. “Everyone deserves to have good, wholesome food regardless of [ how much money] they make.”