When local chef Hoss Yazdi lost his job during the pandemic and saw many fellow Atlantans struggling financially, he wanted to find a way to help. So, he turned to what he knew best — food.
“I wanted to help people who were struggling during this pandemic, and as a chef, the best way I knew was to make them dinner,” Yazdi said.
This desire to help metro Atlanta residents access fresh and healthy food led Yazdi and his friend Ali Yadollahi to found a new meal-kit company they call Plateful.ly.
But Plateful.ly isn’t like Hello Fresh. What sets it apart is the unique “pay-what-you-can” pricing model, and 50-percent of their profits are used to subsidize meals.
“I saw so many people who don’t have any job, they couldn’t afford a meal, they couldn’t access a healthy meal,” Yazdi said. “So I’m trying to create a system that people can be chefs in their kitchens and also help those who couldn’t afford the meal.”
The Plateful.ly team rents out a shared kitchen, where two chefs prepare each dish, besides the protein. Each kit is the size of one or two meals. And every Tuesday, the meals are delivered directly to the customers.
Folks can choose between a variety of fruit, veggie, meat and seafood dishes that are fresh, affordable and easy to make.
Access to food has been a growing concern for many. Through the pandemic, food insecurity has soared.
During 2020, the first year of the pandemic, an estimated 45 million people and 15 million children in the U.S. faced food insecurity, according to a report released by Feeding America. Comparatively, 35.2 million people and 10.7 million children had unstable access to food in 2019.
The company has gained a stable customer base in its first year, with between 100 to 200 customers per week. So far, Yazdi reports that the pricing system is self-sustaining.
The model’s effectiveness is a testament to how community members will support each other, and customers who are “blessed” can choose to pay a higher price to help folks in need. If they can’t pay a single dollar, Yazdi explained, that’s okay, too.
“So you can pay zero, you can pay $1, you can pay $10, $20,” he said. “For each meal, there’s nothing specific about the price; you can pay what you want.”
“Far less people try to take advantage of our system than many would think,” their website adds. “The majority? They are just like you and us. If needed, they lean on support. If not, they help others as much as they can. We’re uniting to lessen the strain of Food Insecurity in communities, and that’s why we’re sustainable.”
Yazdi and the rest of the team’s bold experiment with the community-based, self-sustaining model offers a new way to access fresh, healthy food in the city.
Plateful.ly currently serves metro Atlanta, but Yazdi hopes to expand its delivery area as the company grows. Those looking to try their meals can click here and if you want to help the team expand its reach, visit their GoFundMe.