Following a passion and creating an alignment of career and purpose is no easy feat, particularly when there’s a lot at stake. It’s often said you’ve got to ‘risk it to get the biscuit,’ which is exactly what Monica and James Meldrum have done (biscuit and all…)
Monica and James are the couple behind Whole Kids; an Australian owned organic food company, specialising in healthy snacks for kids.
Tired of mislabelled and misleading food products, the pair decided to bite the bullet – spending their entire savings on the startup of their now widely successful food production business Whole Kids – dedicated to “unjunking” food and kids’ lives.
The first food business in Australia to become a registered B Corp, James says that from the get go they wanted to create a socially responsible company that reflected their personal values.
It’s almost impossible to begin to cover all the areas that Whole Kids is working to create positive impact. From their ethical sourcing policies, to the incredible charitable efforts they are undertaking to feed kids in Cambodia – the sky is the limit when it comes to the ways in which this small business seeks to give back to people and the planet. Their philosophy that business needs to exist for a purpose beyond profit is exactly why they’re our ‘B Corp of the Week.’
What does positive impact mean to you? How does Whole Kids encapsulate this?
“Positive impact to us means that everything we do as a business brings us closer to fulfilling our purpose which is to help mums and dads create a happy, healthy life for their children. What we do at Whole Kids is stand up for what we believe in and tell people about it. If you agree with our values and beliefs, then try our products and, in effect, cast your vote for us rather than the other food brand. For us, that’s the heart of what makes our community so deeply connected to our purpose and values. And it’s also the power that can drive meaningful change. For example, working with one of our community partners (Plan Australia), we’re aiming to deliver 500,000 nourishing meals to school children in Cambodia. A nutritious start to the day can often mean the difference between staying in school or dropping out, and this have can have life-changing consequences for a child.”
You mention that you spent your house savings the start-up of Whole Kids. What pushed you to make this decision?
“That’s correct! Almost all our savings was eaten up with our first production run so there was a great incentive from the start to make a Whole Kids a success. But Monica and I are not from the food industry and the more we delved into the problems and frustrations that families were experiencing in trying to find healthy food for their kids, the more incensed we became with the ethics, motives and conventions of many parts of the food industry. Issues like junk food to kids, misleading health claims, not disclosing all ingredients in a product on the packaging, and so on. It really got our goat up. Something needed to change.
Also, we didn’t want to create a business just like all the ones we had worked for where profit and revenue were the primary focus. We wanted Whole Kids to make a real impact on these issues. And that commitment led us to become the first food company in Australia to become a B Corp and one of the founding BCorps.”
What differentiates Whole Kids from other organisations doing similar things? What lasting impacts are you hoping to achieve?
“We can’t think of many food companies that would lobby for tighter restrictions for their own industry, yet that’s exactly what we advocate for. The food industry has many structural and regulatory problems that need to be fixed, and more and more health professionals are believing that many chronic health issues are linked to the food we eat and the way food is produced. Our aim is to bring about wholesale change to the industry, so we can help families and reduce the rates of chronic health problems. Some of the things we do are:
- Advocate for tighter regulations around junk food marketing to kids;
- Partner with an environmental company to fully recycle and upcycle our packaging waste;
- Work with school parent groups to create additive-free canteens;
- Involve our customers in developing new and better products;
- Lobby for a ban on harmful food additives to kids;
- Work with NGOs to distribute food to families in need;
- Encourage kids to reconnect with nature and promote mental health; and
- Commit at least 1% of our gross revenue, regardless of our profitability, to community projects.”
As a founding B Corp Talent Nation shares Whole Kids commitment to using the power of business to create a happier, healthier, more sustainable world. We love our B Corp community and want to showcase the incredible people that are working to do truly incredible things.
Got questions about any of the above? We’re keen to chat to more B Corps about what their certification means to them, and how their organisation is living out these values. Connect with us here.