Fresh Cravings to Salsabrate™ Goodness

by Tyler Butler

Collaboration is among the most powerful methods to unite communities and make positive change possible. When Mike Parker and his family launched Next Phase Enterprises in 1995 and FoodStory Brands in 2015, they elevated standards and put purpose in focus. While Next Phase specializes in sales and marketing of food and beverages to merchants such as Walmart and Sam’s Club, FoodStory Brands came about as an incubator to thoughtfully curate unique food, beverage brands and licensing programs.

Fresh Cravings is a member of FoodStory Brands, and its brand mission is to “Crave Goodness” — for the individual and for that person’s friends, family and community at large. As Fresh Cravings applied this vision to its community outreach program, several partnerships for good were forged. One such campaign created by the Parker-Dorr-Davison family benefitting St. Vincent de Paul was the Dream Center, a learning and resource center for the city’s most vulnerable children. It offers a variety of activities to help children excel at school, learn new skills and increase their self-esteem — all with the goal of helping them achieve their dreams. 

The nonprofits that Fresh Cravings supports have wide-ranging philanthropic missions, including food insecurity, literacy, suicide prevention, supporting domestic violence survivors, environmentalism, animal welfare and more. 

Together with St. Vincent de Paul, the company created a program that involved the Fresh Cravings team planting a “salsa garden” in the nonprofit’s community/urban garden, which will provide fresh produce for the families it supports. Fresh Cravings also devised a gardening program to provide indoor gardening options for all the Dream Center students during their summer school.

This inspiring culture of giving led to supporting Phoenix Children’s Hospital in a myriad of ways as well, including funding technology to support its work with traumatic brain injuries. Outside of children’s causes, funding has been provided to Warrior Homesteads, a nonprofit dedicated to providing temporary or permanent homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. Giving back is intrinsic to Fresh Cravings’ core DNA and has been a driving force behind many successful campaigns. 

This community-focused culture came to fruition with the creation in 2021 of Fresh Cravings’ Salsabrate™ The Good giveback program, its most expansive giveback platform. The goal is to amplify goodness and support unsung heroes who make meaningful contributions in their communities via a public nomination process. The company then chose 50 nonprofits, donating $5,000 to each, for a total of $250,000. 

To further amplify the work these incredible charities carry out, the company partnered with UpWorthy and, internally among Fresh Cravings’ team, it invested hundreds of hours to film, produce and post weekly episodes, for 50 consecutive weeks, to the Fresh Cravings social channels, thus leveraging both its treasure and expertise to help worthy causes.

“Our family is deeply humbled to have built two businesses that provide a platform for us to give back in numerous ways,” says FoodStory Brands and Next Phase Enterprises founder and CEO Mike Parker. “From our work, locally in Phoenix with partners like St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and more, to Fresh Cravings’ national giveback campaign Salsabrate™ The Good, we are able to promote and spread an inherent purpose of servant leadership — to each other, to our communities and to our customers.” 

The spirit of service that permeates the two highly successful businesses FoodStory Brands and Next Phase Enterprises relates not only to charitable giving but to how both companies work with their customers, suppliers, employees and partners — a spirit that has also been integral when building and launching new brands. Furthermore, the continuous demonstration of giving from the companies’ founder and his family has led to an internal culture of finding unique ways to serve, especially in the local Phoenix community. 

Fresh Cravings carried the Salsabrate™ The Good platforms momentum into 2022. Thus far, the causes of choice have focused on food insecurity and education. The Salsabrate™ The Good giveback campaign in 2021 provided the opportunity to give back beyond the company’s home city of Phoenix, leading to tangible impacts like providing meals to the Navajo Nation, purchasing 25 new guitars for veterans, the procurement of a van to shuttle underserved children to after-school programs and 1,000 blessing bags to Chicago’s homeless, among dozens of other ripple effects.

This fall, Fresh Cravings plans to host its second annual charitable Salsabrate™ The Good event, in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, which entails a Mystery Basket cooking challenge modeled after the popular cooking competition “Chopped” on the Food Network. The challenge features three chefs, paired with a St. Vincent de Paul-supported youth, who will receive multiple mystery ingredients and race against the clock to create a balanced, delicious meal. 

Last year, the competing chefs were the executive chefs from Salad and Go, Fry’s, and St. Vincent de Paul. The goal of this cooking contest is mentorship for the participating youths — as both sous chefs and judges — and to raise awareness that food pantry chefs live and breathe a “mystery basket” challenge daily as they rely on food and beverage donations to create meals for large numbers. Now with a strong signature community initiative and support from team members, Fresh Cravings will continue to grow new opportunities to benefit those who need support most.

Photos courtesy of Fresh Cravings

Tyler Butler is a chief social impact officer for a publicly traded corporate portfolio where she leads programs that positively impact humanity. She is also the founder of 11Eleven Consulting and she is often cited as a subject matter expert by Forbes, SHRM, Entrepreneur, U.S. News & World Report and more.

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