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June 15, 2018

Over 70,000 people across the globe are members of independent local groups (aka Pods) which are connected to the PlantPure Communities Pod Network — all working to promote the benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle and growing the PlantPure Communities (PPC) grassroots movement. The Providence, Rhode Island-based group, Powered By Plants RI, is an active, highly effective part of the Pod Network. Under the leadership of Christie Jeffries, Kim Anderson and Judy Harff, the Powered by Plants RI Pod is pioneering local initiatives for Pod engagement in the PPC Oasis Program, accelerating Pod Engagement via their 600+-member Pod, and they are fast becoming a leader in the PlantPure Communities Restaurant Campaign. In addition, Pod co-Leader Kim Anderson serves on the PPC Advocacy Council. Beyond sharing her insights and expertise on national advocacy issues, this also ensures that the on-the-ground experience of this Rhode Island Pod gets applied to PPC’s national advocacy agenda.

Powered By Plants RI has consistently stepped up to undertake innovative community-centered projects, paving the way for others to creatively implement PPC initiatives in their neighborhoods. Most recently, in recognition of this groundbreaking work, the Powered By Plants RI Pod received the prize for ‘most creative effort’ with the Restaurant Campaign Wave Challenge on April 12th. The goal of the Restaurant Campaign is for every restaurant around the country and the globe to offer at least one plant-based, oil-free meal on their menu. The Powered By Plants RI Pod has pioneered a new approach to advance the PlantPure Communities Restaurant Campaign. Working with local restaurant owners the leaders of the Pod  convinced two restaurants in Providence, RI, to host private events with specially designed plant-based menus.

The first event, which took place at the Bluewater Grill on January 29th, sold out nearly 48 hours after posting on Facebook. This showed the restaurant owners the growing demand for plant-based, oil-free dishes, and helped them understand that it isn’t hard to make tasty, healthy, oil-free meals. Bluewater Grill’s vegan chef, Chef Cara, designed a buffet featuring vegetable crudites with beet hummus; arugula salad with an oil-free dressing; roasted butternut squash, kale and brussel sprout medley with curried almonds and chickpeas; spaghetti squash pad thai; and stuffed sweet potatoes with black beans, spinach and avocado topped in a pepita “parmesan.” Pod Co-Leader Kim, who was overwhelmed by the level of interest, expressed her appreciation for the event, “The buffet dinner prepared by Bluewater Grill for our Rhode Island PlantPure Pod was a massive success. The event was such a success that Bluewater hosted another event for us 4 weeks later for those who missed out on the first event, and once again we filled every seat. The restaurant looks forward to hosting us again soon, and our members do as well! The food was fantastic. The ability to sit and eat a chef-prepared plant-based meal with no worries of sodium and oil, was a gift!”

Healthy eating is a growing trend in America. A 2018 report identified plant-based dining is 2018’s trend of the year.(1) Indeed, according to the National Restaurant Association, in 2017, 70% of adults said the availability of healthy menu options would make them choose one restaurant over another.(2) In addition, according to a recent Top Trends in Prepared Foods report, six percent of the U.S. population now identifies as vegan, compared to one percent in 2014!(3) 

Since the January 29th event, Bluewater Grill has adjusted their menu to reflect availability of  plant-based, oil-free meals, and they have earned a Certificate of Participation in the PlantPure Communities Restaurant Campaign. “Bluewater Grill was happy to put an asterisk next to several plant-based options on their menu, indicating that various  items can be made oil-free,” said Kim. The Certificate was presented to Bluewater on March 5th.

The success at Bluewater Grill has inspired the Powered By Plants RI Pod to host another ‘Restaurant Takeover’ event, this time at the India Restaurant in Providence. The demand was so great that Kim and Judy needed to work with the restaurant to organize two separate seatings. The event was held Monday, April 9th.

The PlantPure Communities Restaurant Campaign, is now ramping up, and prizes are being awarded each month for creativity and achievement via fun and replicable challenges. The Campaign is supported by a virtual Toolkit, and a new Action Sheet describing the process of hosting a private event at a restaurant is being crafted and will be added to the Toolkit this summer.  PPC expects it will inspire other Pods to follow in the footsteps of the Powered By Plants RI Pod.



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