Atlanta mom Jasmine Crowe-Houston launched Goodr, a company that keeps food out of landfills while addressing food insecurity. Here, her story and tips for other hopeful entrepreneurs.
Raised by a father who was in the military and a mom who had a corporate job, Jasmine Crowe-Houston saw her parents face various challenges in their own careers that inspired her to want to start her own business. But, from an early age, she knew she wanted to do something that would make a difference and help people. And after college, Crowe-Houston quickly realized where her passion lies while working in the service industry. “I really started to get an affinity for feeding people and making sure that people had access to food,” recalls the Atlanta-based mom of one.
In 2013, she started a popup restaurant called Sunday Soul that fed people in her community experiencing homelessness, and four years later, a video of it went viral on Facebook. Although Crowe-Houston was cooking the food herself, social media commenters asked if she would consider food donations. Crowe-Houston then began researching and started learning all about food waste. “I really became enraged around how much food goes to waste while so many people go hungry at the same time,” she says.
In the meantime, she began to notice the growing popularity of food delivery apps like Instacart and DoorDash. “I started thinking, ‘Who’s gonna get food delivered to the people that don’t know where their next meal is coming from?'” recalls Crowe-Houston.
The question led her to dream up Goodr, a waste diversion company which helps businesses eliminate food waste and simultaneously tackles food insecurity. Goodr works with technology that makes it easy for businesses to request pickups when they have edible food to donate or non-edible items they wanna recycle, explains the founder. “We get that food picked up and delivered to a partner all the while keeping it out of a landfill, saving our customers a lot of money, feeding people that are in need, and we are helping our environment along the way.”
Crowe-Houston took her mission a step further by writing the children’s book, Everybody Eats. “It’s all about teaching children about food insecurity and hunger,” she notes. She urges parents to not only talk about the topic with their kids but to take steps in their own home to reduce food waste. “Even though it’s hard sometimes, I recommend people shopping per meal—buying what you’re going to make for dinner tonight as opposed to shopping at the beginning of the week and buying a lot of grocery items that you know will maybe go to waste,” says Crowe-Houston, who also praises meal planning and composting to avoid throwing away food.
Although Goodr started out in Atlanta, it’s now operating in about 26 markets across the country and has diverted about 5 million pounds of food from landfill and provided nearly 35 million meals to people in need, says Crowe-Houston.
“We think we should be in every city, every state, and really have a focus on one day understanding how we can solve rural hunger and what that looks like,” she notes, adding that she’s looking to connect with anyone who wants to be on the journey to end hunger in the United States.
Make a Plan
Crowe-Houston is all about putting things on paper. And while she acknowledges that may not be everyone’s style, it’s how she makes things happen.
“I encourage people to make a plan, write it down, get a to-do list, making sure that you’re checking off the things that you’ve been able to accomplish,” she notes, adding that hopeful entrepreneurs should also write down advice and feedback they get from mentors.
Crowe-Houston encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to put themselves out there to raise funding. Early on in her entrepreneurial path, she sought support from pitch competitions, in which she would pitch her business, answer questions from judges, and then be considered to win a cash prize that could go toward her company.
“If you win a pitch competition and a $10,000 cash prize, that $10,000 goes to you for your business to get it up and running,” explains Crowe-Houston. “I went to a lot of those competitions and that money really helped me with hiring my first employees, being able to pay myself, being able to start building some of the technology.”
Show Your Kids How to Give Back
From reading a book like Everybody Eats to taking meaningful action together, Crowe-Houston encourages parents to get their kids involved in the cause that’s close to their hearts, such as food insecurity and hunger.
“Volunteer with them,” she says. “Bring them out into the communities. Get them involved locally. That’s a big help.”