Community-Powered Vegan Fridge Startup Plantega To Expand Across 20 New York City Bodegas

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Following the news of its launch and successful three-store pilot, Plantega, the startup that installs vegan fridges in Brooklyn and Bronx bodegsas to make plant-based food accessible to communities that don’t have many healthy food choices, has announced that it will be bringing more brands and flavours to expand across the entire New York City.

Due to the immense success that Plantega received from bodegas and consumers in the Bronx and Brooklyn, it has announced that it will be equipping more independent bodegas across the city with plant-based products through its retail and food service model starting with opening four new bodegas that will offer its products to 7 new locations, with plans to double this number by mid-summer.

Bodega is a Spanish word meaning ‘warehouse’, however, in New York, it’s a colloquialism for a specific kind of neighbourhood grocery store.

Plantega was founded by Minneapolis-based social change incubator EFFECT Partners who has hired plant-based food blogger and creative director Erick Castro and Brooklyn-based Nil Zacharias to help expand the company’s efforts.

The company works with bodega owners and customizes in-store solutions for those living in the neighbourhood and provides them access to plant-based items like burgers, eggs, cheese, deli slices, and non-dairy ice cream. Apart from this, the Plantega Grill Menu provides customers with ready to eat plant-based staples like chopped cheese, sausage, egg, and cheese, and deli slice sandwich.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Zacharias, said that for a long time, “the sustainable food movement was out of reach and culturally out of context” for most of the community in New York. “Plantega is on a mission to change that. We use a unique community-powered food systems model that blends the latest food innovations with decentralized, local distribution. We partner with the city’s iconic independent bodegas using a turnkey solution that showcases delicious, high-quality, plant-based brands in formats that feel familiar and accessible to everyone. And we deploy community-led outreach efforts to build awareness and engagement locally. Plantega is an all-round ‘win-win’ proposition for plant-based brands, local businesses, and New Yorkers who are hungry for better food choices at their local bodega.”

We use a unique community-powered food systems model that blends the latest food innovations with decentralized, local distribution. We partner with the city’s iconic independent bodegas using a turnkey solution that showcases delicious, high-quality, plant-based brands in formats that feel familiar and accessible to everyone

Nil Zacharias, lead of the Plantega initiative

The plant-based brands that supported Plantega in its pilot include JUST Egg, Good Catch, Beyond Meat, Miyoko’s Creamery, No Evil Foods, Follow Your Heart and Tofurky. In addition to this, ice cream leader Ben & Jerry has joined the company and will back community empowerment projects in the city.

The company has plans to add more brands like Ace Natural, the city’s leading distributor for natural and organic ingredients.

We deploy community-led outreach efforts to build awareness and engagement locally. Plantega is an all-round ‘win-win’ proposition for plant-based brands, local businesses, and New Yorkers who are hungry for better food choices at their local bodega

Nil Zacharias, lead of the Plantega initiative

Co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, Josh Tetrick, said: “Everyone should have the opportunity to nourish their bodies with food that’s good for their health and good for the planet. Plantega is working to make this possible. We’re thrilled to be a partner in Plantega’s continued initiative in bringing delicious, affordable plant-based foods to even more New York communities this year.”

According to the Food Empowerment Project, around 750,000 New Yorkers are forced to live in food deserts, places where there is little to no grocery store access, and a shocking 3 million city citizens live a long way from shops that sell fresh items.

To further combat this food insecurity, Plantega will be collaborating with mission-aligned chefs, local farms, and community organizations to expand its offerings to its bodegas and patrons.

“At Gathered Foods, we are on a mission to create positive change in the seafood marketplace and want consumers across the globe to have access to great-tasting plant-based products. We’re incredibly inspired by the work that Plantega is doing and are thrilled to have a Good Catch tuna melt on deli menus in New York,” said Christine Mei, CEO of Gathered Foods, makers of Good Catch.

Source: Emily Faber

Founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, Miyoko Schinnerm, added that the team is glad to support Plantega in reinventing the food system and improving access to nutritious options that “benefit the health of all living beings and the planet.” “For years, I’ve said that when we bring people to the table, they’ll experience how delicious vegan food can be and will come back for more. Plantega is a ground-breaking program in helping to realize this goal of bringing plant-based foods to all and we’re delighted offerings will include our butters and cheeses made from real plant milks.”


Lead image courtesy of Emily Faber, Sinclair Broadcast Group.


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