We want to start a revolution in the world of people who need soft foods.
“Hi, I’m Sam. My world changed forever when I saw what happened to my stepdad when he had an illness that made it impossible for him to eat normal food. He was utterly miserable. He needed a radically modified diet that was safe to swallow but what was on offer was hopeless. He began to hate eating and my poor Mum was at her wits’ end trying to cope.
The emotional impact set me off on a journey of discovery about how other people with these challenges were coping. My research revealed the eating experience for far too many people was nowhere near okay. They were either struggling with unappealing, tasteless purées, drinking sugar-filled liquid supplements, resorting to baby food or, worst of all, just giving up and not eating. The breadth of it all was astonishing: Nearly half a million people in New Zealand alone caring for people in this space. So my co-founder Maia and I decided to do something about it. We were convinced that:
"If soft foods could be nutritious and delicious then a whole lot of people's quality of life would be significantly improved. Game on."
Sam and Maia began their research. Over 12 months they went out and interviewed a huge and diverse range of people - the people facing the challenges involved with living with eating difficulties around chewing, swallowing or digesting food. Their caregivers, a quietly determined army of families, nurses, care workers, kitchen teams, doctors, dentists and clinicians, all expressed a real need for something much better. At the same time they investigated the technologies involved in large scale production – and discovered why the rest of the soft food world also recognised this as a very real problem. It wasn’t a lack of appetite to make improvements – but the difficulty of making food in this way at scale. It was the manufacturing process that was producing such colourless, sloppy, unappetising results.
It told them what they needed to do to develop an alternative. They didn’t just need expert nutritionists on the team, they needed manufacturing innovators. So they went to work.
The production result has been an innovation in manufacturing design. From testing the logic in one small kitchen, to its successful application in large scale production in a fit-for-purpose plant that can export globally. From the first batch of chicken casserole, to a continuously evolving range of 60 meal variants. They now supply 40,000 meals a month.
But the real result has been the human impact:
- People starting to eat again.
- Carers in tears over the difference it makes to the life of people they work with.
- Senior executives in care organisations who, after tasting the food and making the comparison, have been galvanised to make the change.
- And research results collected by experienced clinicians.
The Real Equation Better food = better quality of life.
This work has become a quest. We want to restore people’s appetite for life when life’s challenges have diminished it, with beautiful, delicious, nutritious food. We want to agitate for change, to tell the world what we do and the difference it really makes.