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Food Allergy Gal Needs Tech Help to End Local Food Deserts

by Carey Tucker

On Wednesday, March 4, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, NEX Labs is hosting the next installment of Burning Plan at General Assembly’s Ponce City Market location. At Burning Plan, an entrepreneur or team presents their business plan and tells you what they don’t know about their industry, plan, target market, etc. Panelists and attendees then brainstorm and give advice in order to fill the gaps. On March 4th, Lara Holland, aka “Food Allergy Gal,” will be presenting her new concept, ATLCityFresh.


In 2012, Lara Holland (pictured above) founded Centered Table as a food consultancy in southern California. In 2013, she relocated to Atlanta and brought the practice to the Old 4th Ward. She quickly became very active in the community and joined the Old 4th Ward Business Association (O4WBA) soon thereafter. As she spoke to Atlantans who live and work in the city, she began to hear a consistent theme in their complaints. “(They) continued to talk about “food deserts” and I grew increasingly more and more concerned about this comment,” recalls Holland. As someone who’s passionate about food, Lara looked at the problem as a whole and put on her thinking cap.

“For the most part, people in the city were not able to connect with people who had access to food. It wasn’t that we were living in “food deserts.” In fact, Georgia is rich with food supply. It was about connecting food companies, distributors with the people in the city again,” she says. As she soon discovered, one the main barriers to food access was the fact that, “the well established, big companies didn’t particularly like to come into the city because it was difficult to maneuver big trucks and often times, the relationships were not strong with the business owners.” Moreover, “while market owners wanted to sell more perishable products like fruits and vegetables, most didn’t have the resources to devote to that, nor the knowledge. Produce is a speciality thing that requires a lot of labor and attention to detail,” explains Holland.

How does she intend to solve this problem that many inner-city residents face? “ATLCityFresh is a program that provides fresh, clean, convenient produce solutions to independent grocers, convenience stores and consumers via in store merchandising units and mobile carts. CityFresh will have one central hub that can support 20 stores and 10 carts in a neighborhood/community. The central hub is equipped with a 3 compartment temperature controlled cooling facility, commercial kitchen for a fresh cut fruits/vegetables program with canning, pickling and drying capabilities, a food education center, and a small market that also acts as a show room,” she explains. If successful, Holland hopes to take the concept to other cities nationwide.

If you’d like to hear more about ATLCityFresh then be sure to register to attend Burning Plan. Bring your best tech-based ideas to help Lara succeed and stay on the lookout for more great events from NEX Labs and General Assembly.

Follow Lara Holland on:
Her Personal Site: http://ilaraholland.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodAllergyGal
Twitter: https://twitter.com/foodallergygal

[Photo Credit]

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