We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Clahar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I would say the most important factor behind my success and that of the Umi Feeds brand is the people. I am powered by the people! It is through their support that this work is done. The people have cheered for me, supported me by fundraising, donating time, food, and resources. I am a community steward and my contribution is food. The goal of Umi Feeds is to empower people to get involved and do something! The reason I believe people support Umi Feeds is they see the dedication, determination and that I am truly spreading love through food.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What sets me apart is my consistency, passion, care for the health of the community that I serve, and genuine love for the people. Care and concern are an essential element of the work that I do. You can’t serve the homeless, seniors, and food-insecure communities and not care about them. We aren’t a one-off for social media likes and pats on the back. This work is intentional!
I am most excited about the future of Umi Feeds along with the growth and opportunities that will continue to allow me to spread love through food! I don’t want to give it all away but stay tuned!
I am where I am today as a result of hard work and community support. People support genuineness and actions that are about resolvable, especially as it relates to those who are under-served and disenfranchised.
When I started Umi Feeds, I knew nothing about food waste, food rescue, food recovery, suburban poverty, or any of that. I find it interesting and deeply disturbing at the same time. I’ve learned to stay focused on what I’m doing, never mind what other folks have going on. You can’t do everything so focus on what you do best! Don’t compare yourself! Network, partner with like-minded entities, create boundaries, learn to say no, and be okay with hearing no. Lastly, be humble and thankful for what you have! This work will humble you. I’m in bleak places and spaces, rat-infested and urine-filled derelict alleys where the homeless occupy, drugs are rife, the environment is loud from trains, cars, and life. It’s no place to live. I am thankful every day for what I have.
I want the world to discover that we all can do something!! I didn’t set out to create a nonprofit. I saw a problem, which was good food being wasted, and I did something about it. I asked to take food that would’ve been trashed from an event and serve it to those who were in need, simple right? I had no idea of the journey that I would be on. We all can do the same thing right where we’re at. No sophisticated system needs to be in place or advanced degree necessary to get started we just need concerned citizens ready and willing to take action, that’s what Umi Feeds did and will continue to do. I’m here to show you what the power of one person can do. To date, Umi Feeds has served over 30,000 people and diverted over 40 tons of food from going to a landfill and instead into the homes and bellies of those in need.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Currently, I’m obsessed with the Suwanee Greenway Trail, in Gwinnett. I feel like I’m transported to another place every time I’m there. I’m into architecture, photography, food, and I love looking at homes. So when one of my best friends came to visit, I took her to Serenbe Farms – in Fulton county – the community is beautiful. The homes in Alpharetta, particularly at Avalon, are amazing! That’s another community development that I love! One of my favorite things to do is tubing, so I would take them tubing in Helen, amazing mountain views along the way to Helen. We must eat at Ray’s in the City or Ray’s on the River, I love that place! Of course, we’d have to walk the beltline! If these were normal times we’d catch an independent film at either of my favorite movie houses: Midtown Art Cinema, Plaza Theatre, or Tara Cinemas. They’d have to try the Punany Wrap from Tassili’s! Go to the Jackson Street Bridge and see the beautiful Atlanta skyline at night, climb Stone Mountain for either the sunrise or sunset, catch a cool outdoor concert like One Music Fest, or attend the Veggie Taste for some of the best vegetarian food in the city, and attend The Village Market ATL. Listen to WCLK (91.9fM – for the Soul of Jazz with Jamal Ahmad or Sundays with Christian McBride – Jazz Night in America), WRFG, or WRAS, take them to volunteer with Umi Feeds and if you’re here on Labor Day, you MUST attend House In The Park!!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family for their sacrifice of my time, the numerous volunteers that have come through Umi Feeds, and have become like family to me. Nyemay Aya of the Veggie Taste, Dr. Key Hallmon of The Village Market ATL, Nikki Porcher of Buy From A Black Woman, Two Dough Girls, Chef Zu of Kings Apron, On My Mothers Shoulders, vendors, funders, chefs, family, friends, farmers/gardeners and anyone who shared the mission of Umi Feeds, thank you! A special shoutout to Cynthia, Ian, Jamie, Martha, Paulita, Sydney, and Tim.