Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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The Little Kernel donates proceeds from its kid-friendly snack to Generation Rescue, which provides information and treatment assistance to families affected by autism spectrum disorder. BY SARA KAY A Little Kernel with a Lot of Love giving back A look at suppliers and buyers who are making a difference through their business philosophies, models, or charitable efforts. W hen Chris Laurita and Andy Epstein became friends several years ago, they realized that not only do they think alike when it comes to business, but they have a lot of the same personal interests. Epstein, a co-founder of B&A Food Brokers with his father, and Laurita, a principle in BLK Beverages and a marketing and branding expert for various apparel brands, realized that they both had a desire to start a new business venture together in the snack category. It took Laurita's son Nicholas being diagnosed with autism for him to realize that this new venture would not only be a welcome addition to the specialty snack market, but could give back to a community that he was now a part of too. When Nicholas was diagnosed with autism in 2011 at two years old, Laurita and his wife Jacqueline put Nicholas on a special diet, which included foods that were gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO, and found that there weren't a whole lot of items to choose from. "I thought, what an opportunity to bring to market something that is better for you, but also a brand with purpose," says Laurita. "Not only a better snack, but a way to give back to those in the same situation as me and my family." In May 2016, Laurita and Epstein introduced The Little Kernel to the market. A Partner in Generation Rescue "When we first found out our son had autism, I didn't even know what it was," says Laurita. "I got on the internet and Googled, and the first thing that popped up was Generation Rescue." Generation Rescue is the leading national organization that provides infor- mation and support to families affected by autism spectrum disorders. Within a matter of days, Jenny McCarthy, TV star and the board president of the foun- dation, was sitting with Laurita and, Jacqueline, who has starred on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" real- ity television show, to figure out next steps for their son. During their meet- ing, McCarthy mentioned that diet was extremely important, which led Laurita PHOTOS: THE LITTLE KERNEL 56 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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