Kula Kitchen is a plant-based food producer in Vancouver, B.C. They create Afrocentric, plant-based, nutritious food rich in flavour. Kula means eat! which was inspired by the food culture in Kenya, where sharing food with the community is an integral part of everyday life. Founder, Asha Wheeldon, immigrated to Toronto from Kenya as a young teenager, where she was introduced to West African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern cuisine and culture.
After moving to Vancouver, she was inspired to create something unique, connecting people to their food and community reflective of her experiences.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: We make meaningful choices as a company, we source local ingredients, support local service providers, and also work to amplify other local food producers through our local market on our website and our social platform. We purchase several locally grown ingredients, depending on the season. We look for locally grown products through our distributor Discovery Organics, and then we look further down the coast to California. We source some Canadian-grown lentils, and we also source some of our packaging from a supplier in Ontario.
We work exclusively with BC-based service providers. We work with Studio Prolific design studio, we bank with Vancity, and we buy our packaging from Tapio Packaging and BSI Bio. We work out of Coho Commissary kitchen, and we support the work with many of the other businesses there, including Tall Shadows Bakery, To Live For, Elbo Jamaican Patties, Vansuya Nigerian Cuisine. We sell them in our retail shop online, along with many other great BC food producers.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: Our business makes plant-based foods, and that alone has a lighter impact on the planet than animal-based products. We buy local from local food producers, and we use reusable, compostable, and recyclable packaging. Not only are we contributing to our economy, but it also has a more positive impact on the environment.
We are battling food waste by selling our surplus through the Too Good to Go app. Anything extra we have, we put into the app. We sell through zero waste retailers like The Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, Nada Grocery, and Livlite. Our goal is to reduce waste, and encourage reuse of sustainable packaging. It’s not sustainable to bring jars from across the globe and then not reuse them. So we work with partners like Jarr Delivery, Livlite and Reusables to ensure we are encouraging reuse and reducing our impact. We do have flexible pouches for some of our packaging, and that is recyclable. We are also working in a sustainability incubator to reduce our waste and greenhouse gas emissions (what is it called? the URL?).
We are a women-owned business with 5 employees, and we pay more than the minimum wage per hour. As we grow we’d like to offer benefits. All of our staffmembers are people of colour, we want to have a diverse workforce. Since our staff are from marginalized groups, and we strive to create a safe experience for them at work.
We love working to support many local causes. We partner with local organizations to offer plant-based food in reusable packaging, reduce food waste and the cost of food. As a Black- and Woman-owned business, we are on a mission to create spaces to share our experiences, culture, and food through cooking classes like Chop It Up! We work with non-profit organizations to offer accessible nourishing food for our community. We offer catering on a sliding scale to any non-profit that reaches out to us for catering. We also work with Black Women Connect Vancouver. and the youth group Empowered Black Girl. We also support Slavers of Hope (I couldn’t find the website for this, did I get the name wrong?), working with refugee women looking to start their own businesses.
Meet Asha Wheeldon, Founder of Kula:
Woman Owned, Persons of Colour
Follow @kulafoods on Instagram: