Eat Your Coffee sold most of its product at offices, but with the pandemic shutdown it’s now trying to get its snack foods into the hands of doctors, nurses, and others.
In response to the pressure being placed on medical personnel by the COVID-19 pandemic, a caffeine-fueled startup in Cambridge has kicked off a campaign to get some 20,000 of their all-natural, coffee-infused snack bars into the bellies of healthcare workers nationwide.
Eat Your Coffee, founded by Cantabridgian Johnny Fayad and former Somervillian Ali Kothari, normally distributes the bulk of its products at offices. But with most workplaces shuttered, the company found itself with excess inventory on hand. So, the duo decided to find ways to put it into someone else’s hands. Namely, medical workers on the front lines who are often finding themselves pushed to the limits of their endurance.
“Being recent [2017 Northeastern University] graduates, we know people who were in nursing or pre-med,” says Fayyad. “Also, Ali’s brother is an ER doctor in northern California and his sister-in-law is a doctor, as well.
“I think it was a matter of looking into the world and noting the state of things,” he adds. “As a food company, there were a number of ways we can be helpful, but as a company that makes a caffeinated snack … for those workers who are working around the clock, coffee is a lifeline for them.”
Their response was to offer customers a choice. For every two bars they buy, one will be sent to a healthcare organization; or, they can buy five-bar packs at cost on the company’s website to be sent to healthcare workers.
Since they kicked off the initiative a few weeks ago, about 5,000 bars have been delivered. Fayyad says he hopes they can get a total of around 20,000 donated by the time the campaign winds down.
“We’re trying to get the word out,” he says. “We’re allocating anything we would’ve [normally] done in a promotional capacity to this.”
The inventory being dedicated to this drive would normally be distributed among the 3,000 offices that are their clients. Eat Your Coffee hasn’t had to furlough any workers, says Fayyad, in part because it has seen an uptick in their retail sales through Amazon and their own website. Plus, the company received funds from the latest round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. He hopes that will enable them to ramp production back up when needed.
Right now, it’s very much in a state of uncertainty with the offices,” says Fayyad. “You look at offices like Facebook that aren’t planning to go back until 2021, and we’re really at the mercy of them and our distributors. We’re trying to keep an open dialogue with all our customers. That’s the hope, that they’re all going to be there waiting to eat their coffee.”
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