Food Simply Fresh was founded last year on March 21 by entrepreneur, Kelly DeLaire, a woman with multiple nutrition based goals and a big heart. The meals and food items are prepared fresh from unprocessed, mostly certified organic sources and bought from local farmers and businesses. One of DeLaire’s goals is to show people they can eat organically and locally with “responsibly raised food without compromising taste!” There is much more that DeLaire has in mind.
In the process of finding a boarding stable for her horse, she discovered Hilltop Farms in Willow Springs, a certified organic farm. After talking with the owner of the Hilltop Farms, studying voraciously on her own and consulting with a dietitian, she began her business, “Food Simply Fresh.” Local farms such as Wilkerson Farm in Willow Springs and Green Bee Farms in Fuquay-Varina also serve as sources for organically fed meat and organically grown vegetables and fruits. She has been preparing meals and organic food products in her own kitchen for sales since starting the business. Her sauces and soups are distributed through Backyard Produce, (an online farmer’s market in Raleigh with customers from Wilmington to Charlotte) and with this increased demand and increasing orders for fresh boxed meals locally she needed a larger kitchen. She even considered opening a restaurant now that her son was 26 years old and involved in the business as well .
Research for the specifications and guidelines for building and running a kitchen in Wake County were not easily found, until she received a call from James Sprunt in Warsaw, N.C., of Eastern Carolina Food Ventures about a community “incubator kitchen” that she could lease for several hours a week. She will be driving two hours, cooking for two hours and making the return trip twice a week, Sunday and Tuesday, so the food orders will be available on Monday and Wednesday. The “incubator kitchen” provides education, step by step information about starting a food business and a place to do large-scale cooking for fledgling food businesses by leasing the facility as needed until they can buy their own facilities.
Since opening her business, DeLaire has intensively studied the effects of hormones and antibiotics used in growing animals for market and their effects on the humans who eat their meats, as well as the use of insecticides on crops and “genetically engineered” meat producing animals. But the documentary, “A Place at The Table,” really increased her interest in the local people who go hungry.
“Our country produces more food than any other country, yet we have so many who are hungry,” DeLaire said.
After hearing stories of local people who are elderly, sick, poor, make too much money to qualify for assistance, are home-bound or have “fallen through the cracks in the system,” she was determined to do something about it. One story that really touched her was of an elderly couple who were living on butter and crackers.
Ben Stone, owner of Backyard Produce, donates hundreds of pounds “leftover and perishable foods” to Inter-faith Food Shuttle and challenged her to “pay it forward.” So she started her own “Pay it Forward Fund,” used to help pay for the wholesale priced meats she uses to prepare foods for donated meals to those in need of help. With these donations she is able to help more people and stretch the money she has. Donations may be made through the online orders on her website. She raised over $700 from these donations already. People have bought “gift certificates” for meals for friends as well. One such customer was having chemotherapy and his office bought six weeks of meals for him and his wife, delivered fresh twice a week. Gift certificates can be purchased for new mothers, people recovering a sickness, wedding shower gifts and anyone who needs a little help with food.
In order to carry out the challenge, DeLaire is looking for help in contacting those who need good wholesome foods. She wants to not only help the needy, she wants to teach good nutrition, “how to stock a pantry with a healthy supply of food,” “how to stretch your dollar” when it comes to buying foods, as well as, cooking skills wherever there is an interest: schools, interested organizations or people. She hopes this article will help people be aware of her desire to help those who need good food to get it and to teach nutrition when possible and help her connect to organizations involved in helping feed those in need.
On the “Food Simply Fresh” Facebook Page one may find menus, interesting facts about nutrition, facts about the business and more. This week she will be preparing one hundred pints of Tomato Basil Bisque for Backyard Produce and over one hundred meals for customers this week. This is a growing business with a great future aimed at better education and feeding of our community. For further information call 919-868-5340 or go to her website: www.foodsimplyfresh.com.