Plant-Based Company PowerBites! Is Fueling People to Change the World
Each month, we highlight the work of a small Black-owned vegan business. This month, we are so delighted to partner with PowerBites!—a company making healthy plant-based snacks for kids and adults alike.
PowerBites! products are vegan and gluten-free, made with fair-trade dark chocolate, dates, maple syrup, cacao, oats, almonds, sea salt, and almond butter. The company was founded by Sharif Rasheed and Derric I. Heck, two men with a passion for equity and social justice. Their snacks are intended to “fuel you nutritionally so you can change the world.” They even donate a percentage of all sales to public school teachers!
Sharif and Derric kindly took the time to answer our questions about how their company came to be, their goals, and more.
What are your names, where are you from, and what is your relationship to PowerBites!?
Co-founders Chief Snacktivist Sharif Rasheed and Chief Operations Officer Derric I. Heck are both based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sharif, could you tell us about your inspiration for creating healthy food for your family and community?
Inspiration is my son, Malcolm Rasheed. He is a picky eater (like most kids), and I knew he wasn’t getting enough protein, fiber, or calories in his normal diet. I sought to create a soft granola bar that broke into squares. He loved it and asked for another one. The rest is history!
Derric, could you explain how your PhD research on education and childhood hunger has impacted your life and business choices?
With parents as educators, our home was always filled with conversations about the importance of education. For nearly a decade, I’ve been working to address the sociopolitical hurdles that students and families face in pursuit of accessing a high-quality educational experience. What I’ve learned is that focusing on some of the things that many take for granted, like having a consistent source of nutritious food, is one of the first steps that we can take to remove some of those hurdles. When Sharif and I founded PowerBites!, we knew that we would figure out a way to make this a key component of our corporate identity and strategy.
How does your knowledge of food deserts and food insecurity inspire the PowerBites! mission?
The research confirms that, increasingly, the growth in income inequality has segregated both people and resources. Many communities are experiencing disproportionate levels of underinvestment, which includes goods and services that put them in proximity to fresh foods. Historically, there has been a relationship between the quality of food and the cost of food. We believe that income and zip codes should not determine what you’re able to put on your plate.
What is “snacktivism,” and how is it shaping your business goals?
#Snacktivism is our effort to be part of the conversation and bring a sweet solution to making a dent in childhood hunger through a power-packed snack that everyone can access and enjoy. Our Buy and Share program will actively engage our customers in that movement. Look out for the national launch of Buy and Share in the fall as part of our back-to-school efforts!
What’s next for PowerBites!?
We’re so excited to launch #snacktivism so that we can bring PowerBites! to millions of families. We look forward to growing our brand through partnerships with retailers across the country (and beyond).
Do you have any favorite vegan brands you wish more people knew about?
Is there anything you would like to add?
PowerBites! is such a satisfying choice not only because of its great taste and nutritional value but because of the choice we’ve made to build a company that makes a difference in the lives of people and the planet!