How one group of Capital Region culinary professionals mobilized to serve six million meals to Louisiana residents in a matter of months
While 2020 has been anything but easy, one uplifting aspect of a year dominated by one crisis after another is that we’re shown how quickly people can mobilize to help when others are in need. Thanks to one Capital Region company, thousands of hungry Louisiana residents have access to hot, nutritious meals.
Focus Foods, a meal solutions vendor based in Baton Rouge, was founded in March by a group of former food truck operators in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Owned by entrepreneur Jeff Landry, the new company supplies healthy, delicious meals to schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, senior living facilities, and emergency relief efforts.
From March to August of this year, Focus Foods served over six million meals to children across South Louisiana, including West Feliciana Parish. During this time it worked closely with the Three O’Clock Project, a Baton Rouge-based non-profit that distributes free meals to at-risk children. When the pandemic forced sudden school closures and demand for single-serve meals surged, it invested in commercial equipment to mass produce meals, and quickly grew from producing around 2,300 meals a day to more than 50,000. The group also served thousands of SWLA residents and evacuees during Hurricane Laura recovery.
“I think because Bank of St. Francisville believes in our mission of feeding hungry kids, they've gone the extra mile to help us every way they could,” says Focus Foods’ CFO Matthew Wiggins. “And the bank has really grown that mission with us.”
While many startups would likely struggle to successfully expand their production capabilities to such a high volume within such a short period of time, the team at Focus Foods was able to pull off the feat by drawing on the business acumen and the culinary expertise of its co-founders. In addition to Landry and Wiggins, their team includes Adam York and Thomas Jacobs of The Big Cheezy, and Neal Ashby of Pullin’ Pork. Together, the five food professionals bring over 100 years of combined industry experience to the table.
The meal options at Focus Foods aren’t your average prepackaged cafeteria fare, either; they’re prepared using minimally-processed ingredients that are fresh, flavorful, and best of all, highly nutritious. Parents can rest easy knowing the company is the food service provider for students in West Feliciana Parish School District.
For now Focus Foods is operating out of a state-of-the-art kitchen at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge. They will soon break ground on a new facility in Baton Rouge, creating 150 jobs in the process next spring.
“I don't know if we would be where we are today without BSF,” Wiggins says. “Their relationships have gone above and beyond.”
To learn more about how Bank of St. Francisville can help establish, grow, or expand your business, call 225-635-6397 or click here to schedule an appointment. For more financial wellness advice and community stories like these, click here to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter.