Change Isn’t Happening Fast EnoughMichel Nischan is a four-time James Beard award-winning chef leading the local and sustainable restaurant scene since 1981. His son being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes in 1994 is a personal and professional game-changer. Determined not to feed his customers food he wouldn’t feed his family, Nischan devotes himself entirely to his “restaurant of well-being.” Nischan founds his first “restaurant of well-being”, Heartbeat, in 1998. Heartbeat is followed by Pure Restaurant in Mumbai, India in 2006. While Nischan was seeing traction for his Cuisine of Well-Being approach on the up-scale restaurant scene, ominous things were happening in the background for Americans struggling with low-income.
1996 - 2002
The State of the Undernourished Nation1996: Welfare reform triggers the largest decrease in the federal food assistance safety net since the New Deal. Food insecurity soars.
2001: Benefits are restricted faster than Americans are being lifted out of poverty, emergency food providers struggle with the highest level of people seeking food assistance ever; 1 in 4 is a child.
2002: Congress refocuses the SNAP (food stamp) program on increased commodity distribution through the TFAP program, resulting in cheaper, less nutritious calories hitting the tables of food insecure Americans. The obesity epidemic is officially recognized by the WHO. Nutrition insecurity becomes real.
Setting the Wheels of Change in MotionNischan recognizes that nutrition insecurity is a bigger health problem than food insecurity for low-income Americans and founds Wholesome Wave. In partnership with [the late] Gus Schumacher, and with grant funding from his then-business partner Paul Newman, the team sets out to move the needle on nutrition access and make the change they have been waiting to see.
A Mission of ChangeThe mission of Wholesome Wave is to give underserved Americans the resources they lack to purchase fruits and vegetables. The WW approach is entrepreneurial and market-based; raising private funds to demonstrate how public funds could be more effectively leveraged, has a profound impact on the industry as a whole. From farmers to grocers to the supply chain and to the health benefits experienced at the consumer level- the successes come to permanently influence federal policy.
2014 - 2018
Changing the Landscape2014: By sharing program outcomes from Wholesome Wave’s extensive network of community-based practitioners with key decision makers in Congress, Nischan and Schumacher are instrumental in securing $100M for the food equity field. Written into the Farm Bill, this grant is called the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, or FINI.
2018: FINI is expanded to $250M, made baseline and permanent, and is renamed the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), after Michel’s late partner. GusNIP permanently expands affordable access to fruits and vegetables for low-income Americans.
Change is Happening Now
2018: The team begins a new quest to answer the question: “What kind of financial support is needed to accelerate the change that has already been achieved?” Based on the Newman’s Own model, Nischan creates Wholesome Crave as a plant-based solution for large scale feeding facilities that saves labor while giving back.
2019: Wholesome Crave becomes Google Headquarters’ preferred plant-based soup provider.
2021: Wholesome Crave is the soup of choice for UMASS Amherst and UC Santa Cruz.
2022: Wholesome Crave expands to other Healthcare operators, partnering with Maine Medical Center on their patient care line, and Atria Senior Living, as well as leading operators in the B&I sector such as Bloomberg and Amazon.
Wholesome Crave ratifies the Chef Impact Board, comprised of some of the most successful chefs in America working toward a more equitable, just, and sustainable food system. Each member holds an equity position in the company, demonstrating our commitment to honoring racial, ethnic, age, and gender diversity as key ingredients to a more delicious food future.
2022 - 2023
Changing the FutureWholesome Crave partners with industry leaders Nestle Professional and UMASS Amherst on a multi stakeholder collaborative geared to promote meaningful plant forward dining experiences at colleges and universities across the country. The Purpose Driven Plant Based Incubator launches at the start of 2023, and quickly has over a dozen universities sign on to the partnership, including Kent State University, University of California, Vanderbilt University, University of Washington, and others. Incorporating data collected from numerous student surveys, the incubator offers scalable recipes, utilizing Wholesome Crave soups and Nestle Professional plant-based brands like Sweet Earth and Minors. The purpose of the incubator is to engage student populations who demand more healthy, sustainable, and environmentally friendly food options, and are aware of their ability to make real change by the choices they make in their everyday lives.
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