Today we’d like to introduce you to Umi.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Umi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The seed for Umi Feeds was planted when I was a teenager in New York City. My aunt Nadia, who was also known as Ummi, fed the homeless in Manhattan. I occasionally went with her to serve the people. Fast forward, some 25 years later and I am now living in Atlanta. I was volunteering for the City of Atlanta and the food from the event was soon to be discarded. Seeing that it was a lot of food that could be consumed instead of trashed I asked if I could have the food. I wasn’t taking it for my personal self because my family is vegetarian. Instead, my thoughts were to go to nearby Woodruff Park where I knew some homeless people occupied. The organizers allowed me to take the food and in that instant, Umi Feeds was born. Immediately after the event, alone, I went to Woodruff Park and shared the food with the people. I was serving them as if I was in a restaurant! It was totally different than what I was expecting. It was really a polite exchange.
My intentions going forward were to show people that hunger and homelessness was not something that only occurred or was to be worried about around Thanksgiving and Christmas. That in fact, hunger and homelessness occur EVERY DAY! So in May, the same people need to eat as they do in November and December when everyone is feeling charitable.
Also, when I rescued the food from the event, I had NO IDEA what food rescue, food waste or food recovery was? I just knew it was something that was unnecessary. Perfectly good food was going to waste while someone a short distance away is hungry. It shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be.
Has it been a smooth road?
Good question. Yes and no. I’ve had great success with people willing to volunteer their time to support the cause. I’ve had people donate clothes which goes directly to the homeless men and women. I’ve had a great chef (Chef Zu of Kings Apron) to volunteer his time in educating the people on a healthy plant-based diet with the food that we distributed from the mobile market. I’ve received financial support from various donors. The struggle would be getting food! Some places are so afraid to give food away because of the threat of being sued should someone fall ill. The struggle is the red tape. The struggle is suburban poverty. My challenges come in not being able to secure food because of the litigious society that we live in. I’ve had some restaurants donate but we need more! I’ve been very successful in creating alliances with chefs to donate unused food from catering events, farmers who may have an excess crop, everyday people who have events where food is left over and the community for sharing Umi Feeds with their network of people. I’ve been able to feed over 4,000 people and counting in metro Atlanta, Miami, Mississippi, and New York since 2015. That’s success!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Umi Feeds is a food rescue organization. We are dedicated to feeding the hungry and the homeless healthy and nutritious meals in metro Atlanta and beyond. Umi Feeds is known for feeding the hungry and the homeless. We also operated a weekly mobile market where we gave away food rescued from grocery stores via a partnership with the Atlanta Free Store.
I am most proud of the love and intention put behind serving the people. We serve full course meals which include: salad, main entree, dessert, fruit, bread, and a beverage. Umi Feeds believes that we are spreading love through food. Each meal is cooked with love and intention. I am also proud of the relationships that I am building with the people and the community that we serve. That is what sets us apart from other organizations. We care about the community. Our slogan is “More Than Just Food” because the services we provide outside of a healthy meal have included: barber services with Khadir, a talented barber, yoga with Yellow Mat Yoga, we’ve received countless donated clothes, provided hygiene products as well as received hygiene products from On My Mothers Shoulders, toilet tissue from Love Rolls Inc etc. I’ve had a librarian come out and advocate literacy through reading. I’ve also had Emmy nominated poet Jon Goode come out to recite poetry to the guest. We’ve conducted food demos as well with Kings Apron as mentioned earlier. We believe in feeding the mind as well as the body.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Atlanta is a great city for a business like Umi Feeds because it’s necessary. Unfortunately, Atlanta is dealing with homelessness, food deserts, food insecurity, food waste and suburban poverty which are the key elements that Umi Feeds tackles. Umi Feeds is also vital in Atlanta because of the income inequality that’s happening here. While the city is growing beautifully and exponentially at the same time Atlanta is dealing with the biggest income inequality in the nation. That unfortunate circumstance makes way for Umi Feeds to be important to the city.
However, Atlanta is a great place for would-be entrepreneurs. The economy is booming and there is a range of resources for businesses to explore. It’s all about relationships! I would also recommend aspiring entrepreneurs cultivate their relationships.
- We have Umi Feeds merchandise for sale. T-Shirts start at $25 each and Umi Feeds coffee mugs are $15. 100% of the funds are used to support the feedings. Check the website for all of our branded merchandise which includes: t-shirts & hoodies, mugs, caps, tote bags and more.
Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.