Nourishing the Community Through Tasty Treats with Help From CDFI
Client: Anique and Ali Russel, co-founders of Too Good Eats
Client Location: Columbus, OH
CDFI: Economic & Community Development Institute
CDFI Service Area: Ohio
- Financing with support from the Finance Justice Fund
“I remember my family dealing with a lot of health issues growing up,” said Anique Russell, founder of Too Good Eats, an artisanal popsicle and drink business. “Family members passed away due to things that could have been prevented by adopting better eating habits.”
Russell found a way to help through Too Good Eats. “Heart disease is the number one killer in the US. It has been for a very long time,” Russell said. “We believe that we can combat that by creating nutritious products like our real fruit and vegetable pops and beverages.” All of Too Good Eats’ food is gluten-free, dairy-free, and without added colors or sugars. Their products even contain no added water — because “we’d rather deliver more of the GOOD stuff. Every bite and sip is packed full of nutrition and flavor that your body will thank you for!”
Too Good Eats grew from Russell’s love of family. “When our son was born, I was passionate about giving him a healthy start to life,” she said. “I made all his baby food from scratch. Once he grew out of that, I wanted to create him something fun but nutritious. I started making these super-food frozen pops.” Russell’s son wasn’t the only one who loved these treats. In 2016 Russell turned the urge to feed healthful, delicious food to her loved ones into a business.
Today, Too Good Eats sells its frozen pops and drinks on carts at farmers’ markets and shops all over central Ohio. Russell works alongside her husband, Ali, who develops exotic flavors such as lemon berry lavender and dragon fruit lemonade. Ali was an environmental engineer by trade, but “he just came into the kitchen and started creating recipes,” Russell said. “So that’s when I asked him formally to be my business partner.”
Too Good Eats feeds the community in other ways. They offer a program called Nourish Our Community, in which they teach entrepreneurship to local high school juniors and seniors. “I was a teacher for Columbus City Schools before doing Too Good Eats full time,” Anique said. I know what’s missing and through this program, I can help young people develop social and entrepreneurial skills.”
Last April, with a loan through ECDI, Too Good Eats expanded into their first brick-and-mortar at the newly-opened East Market with their Experience Cafe. Now they have a home base for their food cart business and also can offer a wider range of goods and host events. “ECDI made everything super easy to understand, and they truly wanted our business to succeed. They’ve been a great partner in helping us grow our business,” Russell said.
Too Good Eats’ growth doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “We’re toying with the idea of licensing out or franchising our brand while retaining the integrity of our product. We’re increasing partnerships with retailers that align with our mission. So the big vision is to become a national brand and a staple in homes all across the US,” Russell says. No matter the scale, Too Good Eats remains focused on helping customers lead healthier lives — “It all comes down to ‘did we impact someone’s life or the people they love?’”