It is a new year and we all are focusing on living better and healthier lives. Lauren Foster and I met through a mutual friend, Shelley Kaplar. I was immediately interested in her company Stretch Recipes. We spoke about her mission and her passion for people to have the tools to live their best life. I recently caught up with Lauren to find out more about Stretch and how the community can become involved. This is what she had to say.
UJIMA: What makes you so passionate about eating healthy?
LAUREN: I’m passionate about people having the tools they need to succeed in life. I grew up with my grandmother who was diabetic, had heart disease, and cancer. As a result, she was often tired and didn’t cook much. So most of the time, I was given $20 to run to McDonald’s or Harold’s Chicken to get my dinner. (If you go today and ask my grandmother, she will tell you that when she was young, she didn’t take care of her body. She would often eat a Snicker bar and have a Coke for lunch and keep going. My grandmother has hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. She’s the bionic woman and despite of all of that, her life is shortened and complicated because of her nutrition habits.)
When I got out on my own, I didn’t know how to grocery shop or meal plan, so lots of spaghetti nights. Truthfully, I had no clue what to eat and I always went over my grocery budget. It takes a lot of work and I didn’t realize it was all a huge problem for others until 10 years later, my youngest brother blew his entire budget in one trip to the grocery store. Even in that moment, I thought that it was just me and him, but then I found a number of people face the same problem of balancing budget with proper nutrition. We all want to eat better and save more so we can live a longer and healthier life, but many of us are stretched for time and knowledge of how to pull that off and have it taste good at the same time.
LAUREN: Stretch Recipes is about having fun and empowering people to live better lives. Stretch, the app is about empowering everyone to have a tool they can use to save time, whether that time is in eating better to live a longer life or making it easier to find recipes that are balanced with their eating requirements. For example, someone is recently been diagnosed as diabetic. They have to implement a diet change. Stretch allows them to do that with minimal stress. They can enter their budget, choose from diabetic recipes, and automatically get their shopping list and coupons so that they can easily navigate the change. Additionally, someone who is looking to eat better on a budget, can find nutritious recipes that can help guide them to a better diet. It can change lives by alleviating stress, improving eating habits over time, and helping people save money to spend on other awesome things.
UJIMA: I know you have done events in the community. Can you share with us one event you have done and the outcome?
LAUREN: We worked with Latinitas for the Code Chicas event. I had the opportunity to meet some young girls around 11-13. Kids are so smart and have all the promise in the world! It was fun and really made me think of some cool things we can do in the future. We look forward to watching these girls grow up and build some amazing things. Prior to starting the event, I was nervous about the takeaways, but I hammered into them the importance of learning how to code. It stuck, when they were asked what they learned and who they met, there takeaway was that it is important to learn how to code.
UJIMA: If someone becomes involved with Stretch what would should a participant expect?
LAUREN: Right now, we have needs in two areas. One is our cooking classes. If someone signs up to join, they should expect cooking classes, food demonstrations, or product tastings. The classes last one hour to sometimes two hours and ends with a meal or various samples. If someone wants to help with Stretch, they will spread the word and tell as many people they can about it to sign-up and test, or pre-order it. We want it to be a universal tool so we are looking for as many people as possible to test it out to make sure it has the features needed to succeed.
UJIMA What has been the most difficult part of involving the community and getting participation?
LAUREN: The most difficult part has been that I’m not funded in this so I don’t have a big team to go out and spread the word. I need people to stand up and be counted if they find this app can help them. There are a number of people who are unable to see what it’s like to have $20 in your pocket and have to figure out how to get to the next paycheck. There are a number of people who are unable to know what it’s like to have to change your diet and be stressed about how to accomplish it. Those same people make the decision on whether or not this project gets funded. Getting my voice and a platform where I can communicate this is the hardest. Getting people to stand up and be counted and say, yes this matters is the hardest.
UJIMA: What is the bottom line for Stretch to be impactful in a persons life?
LAUREN: To sign up for the app and/or the cooking experience.
UJIMA: Any last comments?
LAUREN We are fundraising for our app by hosting a cooking experience series in 2015. This way, you can try the recipes that will be in the app, add your own recipes, and have fun along the way. We will record the cooking classes so that you can always access the lessons. This is an annual membership and it’s a great way to have fun while helping. If a group signs up, we’ll bring the party to them!
UJIMA: How can our readers find more information about Stretch Recipes.
UJIMA: Any upcoming events?
LAUREN: Speed Date Cooking
Paleo – 1/22
Big launch (Looking for music acts) – 3/28
Check the website for more information.
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Embrace Your Community
Posted by Damita Miller-Shanklin