Cassandria Campbell, MCP ’11, ties her interest in food to her first summer jobs at the Food Project on farms in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Roxbury, the Boston borough where she grew up. “I loved seeing things grow,” she recalls, “and I appreciated how much change it made in Roxbury, bringing people together and turning vacant lots into productive urban farms.” It wasn’t until she returned to Roxbury after graduating from graduate school that she decided to immerse herself entirely in the food industry by founding Fresh Food Generation, a company dedicated to making healthy eating options more affordable.
When Campbell earned her master’s degree in urban planning from MIT, she became familiar with the growing movement for healthy, everyday food. A moment of clarity came to her one night when she was leaving the Roxbury YMCA and realizing that the only places to eat nearby were “unhealthy” fast food restaurants, as opposed to those near MIT. “I was just amazed. Fast food shouldn’t be your only option, ”she says. “People have poorer quality life experiences due to dietary choices.”
To solve this problem, she had the idea to create a company that would offer healthy, everyday Caribbean-style meals made with local ingredients. Fresh Food Generation started out as a food truck in Roxbury and the surrounding area, hiring experienced chefs to design the menus. While the truck is still in operation, the company has since expanded its focus on catering, teaming up with organizations looking to serve healthier and culturally appropriate meals at their events.
Two weeks after the outbreak of the pandemic, Fresh Food Generation received a call from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Foundation asking them to work together to provide food for food insecure people. The company partnered with Mass General Brigham to ship customized food boxes to Medicaid recipients with special dietary needs. The company also moved on to delivering ready-to-eat meals and even began delivering across the country.
Fresh Food Generation recently introduced a menu inspired by New Orleans chef and civil rights activist Leah Chase. “It was really fun to eat food that interacts with people. It becomes an experience – stories are told, ”says Campbell.
And in 2021, the company opened a permanent restaurant in Dorchester. “I really love that I can give food to people with love and know that what I give to someone will taste good and good for their body,” she says.