Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we focus on local companies, organizations and individuals who help create a healthy local economy.
A sense of purpose and a love of food. Social entrepreneur and Simon Fraser University associate professor Alia Sunderji has combined both for an initiative that will benefit the environment and society in the coming years.
Sunderji is the founder of Luv The Grub, a food company that cooperates with farms and produces markets to save bumps, crushed and malformed fruits and vegetables from entering the landfill. The company then turns the ugly products into gourmet chutneys and spreads through an education program with paid employment for refugees.
Vancity has been supporting people in our community since 1946. As part of our Made in Vancouver series that focused on local businesses, we spoke with Luv The Grub founder Alia Sunderji about saving fruits and vegetables from waste, while also supporting newcomers to Canada. Learn more about what Vancity does in your community at vancity.com
“I teach Sustainable Innovation at SFU and I was inspired by my student’s research into how much product waste was going on at the farm and production market level in BC,” Sunderji told the Daily Hive. “I wanted to do something about it and decided to upgrade them to value-creating shelf-stable products, while at the same time hiring newcomers. My mother and partner are refugees and I would like to give back to the community. ”
Chutneys are an integral part of Sunderji’s East African home, so she got the idea to turn the discarded products into delicious, homemade chutneys.
Luv The Grubs products include Blueberry Sage Chutney, Spiced Mango Chutney, Chai Apple Spread. Chutneys and spreads are sold through retail partners, at luvthegrub.com and on Amazon and at events such as holiday markets.
“We make delicious products that are also gourmet with fusion flavors. We are an inclusive employer and have a strong environmental mission, ”Sunderji explained. “We want to expand our food rescue mission as well as employment opportunities.
“I was inspired by Homeboy Industries, which has several social enterprises under their umbrella brand, which are mostly food-based. They employ former prison gang members, and they provide not only employment but also community and peripheral services such as counseling, legal counseling, parenting courses, tattoo removal, GED completion support and more. “
Since its founding in 2016, Luv The Grub has employed over 40 people through its paid employment training program, saved over 100,000 lbs of production seconds and transported to over 65 dealers in Canada and the United States.
“We make good food and do good for people and the planet, ”said Sunderji. “The more people support us, the further we can go in our environmental and socio-economic missions.
“ONE profitable business can also have an impact that can be environmental, community-based or even both. Doing good is good business. “