MamaSezz believes in food that heals
The idea: Provide business-growth financing with more flexibility than traditional loans and without owners having to cede control to equity investors.
MamaSezz is on a mission, a lifestyle and culinary crusade.
Eight years ago Meg Donahue brought her mom, Millie, home from the hospital with congestive heart failure and a life expectancy of three months.
But Meg, a competitive tennis player, wasn’t ready to concede this match. She and her partner, Lisa Lorimer, researched people who had survived the disease and found a Cleveland Clinic program that claimed to prevent and reverse heart disease through a whole-foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet.
They began cooking and challenged their family to eat nothing but WFPB meals for four weeks. Slowly, Millie started getting better. She took cautious steps in her room, then across the driveway, and worked up the strength and courage to hold her infant granddaughter.
That wasn’t all. The arthritis in Meg’s hips was less painful. Lisa’s high blood pressure dropped to normal levels. Over time, Millie weaned off medications she’d taken for years.
“The only thing that changed was the food,” Meg says. “We switched from food that hurts to food that heals.”
Whole-foods cooking is time consuming, and theirs is an on-the-go family. When the couple looked for a company that made and delivered WFPB meals, they found none.
So they started one, launching MamaSezz in 2017 with money from friends and family. While Meg studied and experimented with recipes, Lisa, who had owned Vermont Bread Co., lined up experts in design, packaging, and distribution.
They leased a former food incubator in Keene that contained much of the machinery they needed.
From the outset they had ambitious goals. They wanted to deliver heat-and-eat meals across the US. They wanted to minimize trash (MamaSezz pays to recover and recycle its packaging). They wanted food yummy enough for Meg’s football-playing brothers. And they wanted working at MamaSezz to be as healthy and satisfying as the food.
When MamaSezz needed financing to upgrade equipment and for marketing, those goals connected with the Community Loan Fund and its Vested for Growth business investment team. VFG made an investment in February.
As for Mama Millie, she’s now 88. She swims several times a week, drives, and enjoys time with her granddaughter. Just what you’d expect from a woman who inspired MamaSezz’s motto: “Eat your fruits and veggies. Now go out and play.”
Know someone who needs financing to grow their business and create good jobs? Contact our Business Finance team.
This story was published in the Community Loan Fund’s 2019 annual report.