KeHE is one of the largest and most respected national fresh, natural & organic and specialty food distributors in North America. The organization was founded in 1952 by Art Kehe an independent retailer who saw a need in the market to better service store owners. Where they go, they spread the word on healthy eating, sustainable living, and responsible business with integrity.
By combining consumer insights, market data, and a curated item assortment with product knowledge and merchandising expertise, KeHE deliver actionable data-backed solutions to keep their partners relevant, fresh and ahead of the pack.
Passionate about business with integrity, KeHE is a proud Certified B Corporation, that takes care of their people and those less fortunate through their philanthropic arm, the KeHE Cares™ Foundation.
KeHE Cares™ Foundation
KeHE Cares™ is a group represented by hundreds of KeHE employees who are committed to serving others right where they live, or throughout the world. The Foundation is committed to helping the people they serve, by moving them from dependence to dignity through purposeful outreach opportunities. KeHE Cares™ provides opportunities for their employee-owners to volunteer in the U.S. and abroad. They serve in local soup kitchens, create healthy meal kits for the hungry, build and repair homes, collect relief supplies and much more. If an employee is passionate about a cause, they can request assistance from the Foundation committee.
CAREtrade® bridges the gap between KeHE and KeHE Cares™, by identifying and promoting a set of brands that advance a higher purpose than commercial success. They are working shoulder to shoulder with like-minded suppliers and retailers. All CAREtrade® suppliers are impacting lives around the world by providing jobs through dignity, feeding children in need, supporting widows and orphans, working with community gardens and trying to eradicate modern-day slavery or sex trafficking.
Small Axe Peppers as a CAREtrade® Partner
When Small Axe Peppers told Laura McCord, Ex. Director Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at KeHE, our story, she thought we’d be a perfect fit for the CAREtrade® program. So we applied and were accepted. What made us a perfect fit?
Well, it turns out, KeHE supports several community gardens, creating a unique opportunity to partner. Randy Shaw, Director of KeHE Cares™ Outreach said, “we are excited to connect businesses together to not only drive their purposeful mission but also create a significant impact on communities in need. By introducing Small Axe Peppers to other KeHE Cares™ Partners, we enabled both parties to expand their service in urban agriculture.”
As a CAREtrade® Partner we can now buy peppers from KeHE Cares™ partners, creating a cycle of business for good. Of the many incredible partners a part of KeHE Cares™, two of them happen to be connected with community gardens. We’ve since been donating seedlings and buying peppers.
Two organizations we’re now working with are:
Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN) in Chicago
YMEN is an effective and dynamic organization in the North Lawndale Community on Chicago’s West Side. It was established in 1996 to address academic and social needs that cripple the futures of many young people in North Lawndale, particularly young men ages 10 to 18. YMEN serves about 150 families weekly by providing academic support and skill enhancement, entrepreneurial training, arts education, value-based enhancement classes as well as mentoring, tutoring, sports/recreation and a wide variety of field trip experiences.
Small Axe Peppers sent YMEN the seeds, which they began cultivating indoors months ago. Now that that the risk of frost has passed, YMEN have been giving the seedlings to young people in the neighborhood through a partnership with the Chicago West Side Christian School. Students at the school were given two pepper seedlings they could take and grow at their homes. Teacher Carey Trout worked the peppers into her earth science curriculum as a hands-on lesson about the biosphere. Classes learned how to nurture the seedlings indoors and eventually plant in the ground outside.
The partnership with Small Axe Peppers will give people in North Lawndale another entry point into urban agriculture that can show them the value of growing food, while also building up entrepreneurship skills.
“Part of it is really trying to help us find ways to grow work ethic in these young men, give them some meaningful employment and also give them an opportunity to see the fruits of their labors,” said Marcus Thorne, executive director of operations at YMEN
New Vision Community Church in Laredo TX
With Pastor Lucy at the helm, New Vision Community Church focuses on serving some of the most underserved communities along the US-Mexican Border. One of their projects, Joseph Store House, is a ministry and an integral part of their Church that has become known as “The Little Store of Hope.” They are able to offer high-end gourmet and organic foods to the public at heavily discounted prices. Low income communities are often priced-out of healthy foods, especially organic, but Joseph Store House makes it possible for organic foods to be affordable to anyone in Laredo. The proceeds are used to fund other missions and community projects of this dynamic church.
Included in this “Little Store of Hope” are some products sourced from their very own community garden. For example, The Texas Hot Sauce, which is made from peppers grown and harvested by immigrants and refugees that make up this beautiful community.
Closing the Loop
Ultimately, the KeHE CAREtrade® program helps closes the loop between social conscious businesses, suppliers and consumers. By working with them Small Axe Peppers has found some incredible new partners and will continue to find more along the way. It is not a surprise that through working with other like-minded B Corps such as KeHE, Small Axe has been able to find synergistic opportunities that help extend our mission of support community gardens and urban farms and connecting them to their nearby residents.
Support the Efforts!
Each bottle of hot sauce directly supports the gardens and gardeners associated with the CAREtrade® program that grow peppers for this hot sauce.