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VIOLIFE® Plant Grants Awards $100K to Five Black-Owned Restaurants



New program aims to make plant-based eating more accessible with support from legendary hip-hop artist RZA and vegan chef pioneers Lemel Durrah and Laricia Chandler Baker

Upfield’s Violife® vegan cheese brand today announced the recipients of its 2021 Plant Grants, a new program aimed at making plant-based meals more delicious, affordable, and available in local communities. This year’s program aims to address the disproportionate challenges faced by Black-owned restaurants and communities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Five Black-owned restaurants have been selected to receive $20,000 each, as well as education and mentorship, to add new plant-based dishes to their menu and perform outreach in their communities. Restaurants are often the economic and cultural centers of their neighborhoods, and the goal of the Plant Grants program is to help these restaurants give everyone – vegans, flexitarians, and the plant curious alike – an easy and inspired way to eat more plant-based food every day.

“With the 2021 Plant Grants program, we’re tackling plant-based food inequity head on by empowering Black-owned restaurants to offer more plant-based dishes to their communities – dishes that will delight customers and keep them coming back for more,” said Lisa Akey, Head of Away from Home Marketing for Violife® USA. The 2021 Plant Grants program is the first year of a planned annual initiative.

Moving Plant-Based Eating Forward  

Inspiring more people to eat plant-based is at the heart of the Plant Grants program.  

RZA, the legendary hip-hop artist and outspoken vegan advocate, is sharing his personal story of going plant-based, as well as what motivated him to become involved with Plant Grants. “I’m excited to work with the Plant Grants restaurants because they are on the front line of the plant-based revolution in their communities, through their recipes and the individual touch they put on their dishes to give their customers a great meal,” said RZA. “We are what we eat. For me, that means I still get to eat cheese – vegan cheese from Violife – and with their help, I get to convince people to switch to foods made from plants because they taste good, they’re affordable, and there is a whole lot of variety to choose from. It’s a journey, which is why we need more restaurants like these grantees to help show us the way with delicious plant-based food.” 

Two vegan chef pioneers have also signed on to help the grantees create new plant-based recipes and get their communities involved. Chefs Lemel Durrah of California’s Compton Vegan and Laricia Chandler Baker (aka “Chef Fab”) of Chicago’s Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat have been at the forefront of the plant-based movement for years. As the 2021 Plant Grants Chef Mentors, they are working side-by-side with the grantees to provide guidance on everything from menu development to community outreach, as well as building a successful plant-based restaurant business.

The 2021 Plant Grants recipients share a passion for plant-based eating and have already started making a positive impact in their communities though their food.

  • Seasoned Vegan is owned and operated by mother-and-son team Brenda and Aaron Beener and located in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Their menu of organic, 100% vegan meals are a unique type of cuisine that the Beeners call gourmet vegan soul food – globally-inspired dishes with a soulful twist.
  • Meek’s Vegan Pizza is operated by native New Yorker Demetrius Walker, who brings New York-style vegan pizza to Houston, Texas with the intention of introducing people to veganism through one of America’s favorite foods. Demetrius was inspired to establish Meek’s Vegan Pizza as a result of the struggle to find vegan foods for his nine-year-old son. Demetrius is making the transition to vegan easy and delicious through the familiarity of a comfort food staple.
  • Supreme Oasis Bakery and Deli (SOBAD) is based in Philadelphia and run by Nuyen Emanuel and her daughter, Shon, who has been deemed the “Vegan Goddess” by loyal customers. The restaurant was founded by Nuyen’s father in Baltimore 30 years ago, and she honors his legacy with delicious wholesome food at affordable prices, that is pork-free, MSG-free, trans-fat free and increasingly vegan. SOBAD partners with a local university, hospitals, and other organizations to provide free meals to their community.
  • Vegans on the Run LLC of Shreveport, Louisiana is family-owned and operated by three generations of women including owner Dr. Joslin Mar-Dai Pickens, her daughter, Jalynn Mar’Dai, mother Linda Pickens, and sister Dr. Kimberly. They are on a mission to introduce plant-based eating to customers and give back to the community through providing free “Grab ‘n Go” meals for the elderly and partnering with a local university by offering free cooking classes to college students. Joslin offers traditional comfort foods that she grew up eating but with a unique 100% vegan twist, with an aim to change the face and taste of vegan food in her community.
  • Plant Power Café & Juice Bar is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee and run by Aurellia Alexandre. Opened in November 2016, the restaurant has been a turning point for the community which had not had a vegan restaurant before then. It boasts one of the largest vegan comfort food menus in the city with easy access, availability, and reasonable fares so more people can experience a plant-based lifestyle. Plant Power Café & Juice Bar believes in feeding anyone who comes in the café, if they can afford a meal or not, and has a history of feeding the homeless at no cost.

To learn more about the 2021 Plant Grants program, please visit

About Violife
Violife is a range of award-winning 100% vegan cheese products. All Violife vegan cheese products are free from dairy, preservatives, casein, lactose, gluten, nuts, and soy. Violife comes in a wide variety of flavors and formats. 

About Upfield
Upfield is the largest plant-based consumer food products company in the world, producing plant-based spreads and plant butters. In the U.S., Upfield’s iconic brands include Country Crock®, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! ®, Brummel & Brown®, and Imperial®. Violife® 100% vegan cheese products were added to the Upfield portfolio with the acquisition of Arivia in 2020. Upfield is on a mission to deliver plant-based nutrition that is better for you and better for the planet and is helping to create a “Better Plant-based Future” for all. For more information, visit

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Pepsi Dig In Day Returns




Pepsi® and Chef Carla Hall Announce the Return of Pepsi Dig In Day to Celebrate and Show Love for America’s Black-Owned Restaurants

Pepsi Dig In Day returns Saturday, November 5th giving consumers the chance to win $5,000 for themselves and a $5,000 donation to their nominated Black-owned restaurant when they dine out and share on social media

Pepsi Dig In, the purpose-driven platform designed to drive access, business acceleration and awareness for Black-owned restaurants, is rallying Americans across the country to celebrate their local Black-owned restaurants by dining at them on Saturday, November 5th for Pepsi Dig In Day.

To kick off the festivities for Pepsi Dig In Day, now in its second year, Pepsi Dig In has teamed up with author, television personality and celebrity chef Carla Hall to encourage food lovers to come together and dine at Black-owned restaurants. From October 25th through November 6th, fans who post their meal and tag their favorite local Black-owned eatery will have the chance to win $5,000 for themselves and a $5,000 donation for the nominated restaurant, when they include @PepsiDigIn and #DigInShowLove #sweepstakes. See Official Rules for details and restrictions.

“I’ve always been passionate about celebrating the food and community that Black-owned restaurants bring to the table. Pepsi Dig In does a phenomenal job of supporting these culinary gems with initiatives like Pepsi Dig In Day. We can all make a tangible impact by dining at these restaurants and enjoying what they have to offer,” said chef Carla Hall.

An annual initiative, Pepsi Dig In Day aims to drive consumers to patronize Black-owned restaurants and support the cornerstone of communities across the country. As part of the larger Pepsi Dig In program to drive business and visibility to Black-owned restaurants, Pepsi Dig In Day brings national awareness to Black restaurateurs by tapping into the network and scale that Pepsi provides.

“Pepsi Dig In Day is a movement to inspire diners to discover Black-owned restaurants they’re excited to visit all year round. From rallying food lovers to providing tools for restauranteurs, our goal is to leverage the combined resources and power of our platform, partners, and fans to make a long-lasting impact,” said Scott Finlow, Chief Marketing Officer of PepsiCo Global Foodservice.

This year, Pepsi Dig In is inspiring Americans to show love for their favorite local Black-owned eateries for Pepsi Dig In Day and beyond with activities including:

  • Pepsi Dig In will cover the tab between $2,000 and $5,000 at select Black-owned restaurants on Pepsi Dig In Day (while supplies last). Brunch celebrations at Pepsi Dig In restaurant partners will feature a mix of live DJs, custom menus, and more at 20 select restaurants in major cities across the country including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Phoenix, among others. Fans can check @PepsiDigIn on social to find out where they can celebrate near them.
  • Corporate partners rise to the occasion to support Pepsi Dig In Day by offering a sponsored lunch from Black-owned restaurants for their employees from October 31st through November 4th. Companies committed to Pepsi Dig In Corporate Week include the National Football LeagueNational Hockey LeagueTripadvisorMinnesota VikingsMinnesota TwinsMinnesota United FCBentoBoxVail ResortsHudson CreativeLaunch KitsLiveRampDelaware NorthAcceleration Community of CompaniesGenesco Sports EnterprisesFUSEFigure 8Walton Isaacson, and others.
  • Providing Black restauranteurs with funding and dedicated toolkits of templated brand materials to help bolster their marketing and social media efforts around Pepsi Dig In Day.
  • Encouraging consumers to find their local Black-owned restaurants via EatOkra, and post and tag @PepsiDigIn and #DigInShowLove to help spread the word in their own communities.

Pepsi Dig In continues to offer Black restaurateurs access to resources like Black Restaurants Deliver, a free eight-week consultancy by the experts at Figure 8 that enables restaurants with the tools to meet consumer needs, increase business and improve their online presence. In addition, Pepsi Dig In provides access to opportunities for growth and visibility like its recent Restaurant Royalty Residency program bringing custom dishes from Black restauranteurs to Las Vegas for four-week residencies at MGM Resorts International Mandalay Bay and Luxor hotels. This collaboration is fostered by a shared commitment to building an inclusive and diverse culture for employees, guests, and community.

For further information on Pepsi Dig In, fans can visit and follow @PepsiDigIn on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

About Pepsi Dig In

Pepsi Dig In is the brand’s multi-faceted platform designed to drive access, business acceleration, and awareness to Black-owned restaurants including millions in grants and resources. Launched in 2020 as part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey (REJ), the company committed $50 million to support Black-owned businesses over five years, part of PepsiCo’s larger REJ initiative totaling more than $400 million to increase representation within the company, support Black-owned businesses, and help to create economic opportunities in the communities it serves. To date, Pepsi Dig In has driven:

  • Access, through a $10 million grant from the PepsiCo Foundation to the National Urban League to co-create the Black Restaurant Accelerator program, which provides funding, mentoring and management training to 500 Black restaurant owners in 12 cities over a five-year period.
  • Business acceleration, by launching Black Restaurants Deliver, a pro bono digital and delivery consulting program that is helping restaurant owners adapt to the new consumer landscape.
  • Consumer awareness, with the Restaurant Royalty program encouraging consumers to nominate and share their favorite Black-Owned restaurants to unlock access to unique opportunities, and National Dig In Day, an annual initiative driving consumers to visit these establishments.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $79 billion in net revenue in 2021, driven by a complimentary beverage and convenient foods portfolio that includes Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Quaker, and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Beverages and Convenient Foods by Winning with PepsiCo Positive (pep+). pep+ is our strategic end-to-end transformation that puts sustainability and human capital at the center of how we will create value and growth by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people. For more information, visit, and follow on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn @PepsiCo.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Begins 10/25/22, 12:00:00 a.m. ET and ends 11/6/22, 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Open to legal U.S. residents residing in the 50 US/DC who are 18 or older (19 or older for AL/NE) at the time of entry. Void where prohibited. To enter without making a purchase, email with “Pepsi Dig In Entry” in the Subject line and include (a) your first and last name, complete street address (no PO boxes), day phone number, DOB and email address; and (b) the name and address of the Black-owned restaurant you wish to nominate in the body of the email. Limit one entry per person per day, regardless of entry method. Subject to Official Rules: Sponsor: Pepsi-Cola Company, 700 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY 10577.

SOURCE PepsiCo Beverages North America

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Black Restaurant Week San Antonio




Before the weekend is over, its not too late to spend your dollars supporting Black restaurants in San Antonio, TX. Black Restaurant Week San Antonio is back for its third year spotlighting Black-owned local culinary businesses and business owners. The charitable event kicked off during Black History Month on February 21st and will run thru Monday, March 7, 2022 with over 30 Black-owned restaurants, food trucks and other food-related businesses participating.

Each business will offer a special dish, and a portion of its proceeds, along with additional funds donated by the Tim Duncan Foundation and Spurs Give, will go to the San Antonio Food Bank. For each special dish ordered, the food bank says it will be able to provide 21 meals to San Antonians in need.

Find a full list of participating venues at

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Boyd Collaborates With KJ Marley




Boyd Collaborates With KJ Marley To Address White Farmer Claims of Reverse Discrimination and Lawsuits Blocking $5Billion

White Farmers are suing for Reverse Discrimination to prevent $5Billion in Emergency Relief for Black, Native American and other Farmers of Color. Civil rights leader John Boyd and KJ Skippa Mak Marley collaborated with Kara Brewer Boyd, Association of American Indian Farmers, to release a song “The Land” to highlight historical and ongoing broken promises, broken treaties, racial discrimination and land loss suffered by Native Americans and Black Farmers in the US.

John Boyd, Jr., Founder and President, National Black Farmers Association, 4th generation Black Farmer in Mecklenburg County, Virginia sued the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) and received a Fact of Finding for Racial Discrimination which led to the 1st USDA Discrimination settlement by an individual. Boyd went on to assist 10,000s of other Black and minority farmers to file discrimination complaints, lawsuits and class actions against USDA. Farming is our oldest occupation. In freedom we treasured having land to work for ourselves, our families and racial progress. “Forty acres and a mule,” was an embedded aspiration. 

KJ “Skippa Mak” Marley, son of Kymani Marley, is an international hip-hop artist infusing reggae and dancehall, while invoking the unmistakable musical spirit of his legendary grandfather Bob Marley to speak Truth to Power.

“I think it’s shameful on behalf of white farmers who didn’t reach out to me to say they have any sort of issue with this—they went straight to federal court,” Boyd said. 

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 program represents remedial relief for Black farmers who have had to fight USDA discrimination through the courts to get loans in the first place. “This is not ‘reparations’ as it’s been explained by white farmers, it’s not a ‘windfall,’ it’s not a new loan program,” he said. 

“In 30-plus years of advocacy, I have never seen this level of racial tension in America. As I strive to encourage a new generation, time is against us. It’s been white farmers the whole time who have gotten debt relief from USDA, and all of these years it was Black and other Farmers of Color who were not getting it. That’s why I went through the courts and Congress to get remedial action. It finally passed under the covid spending bill,” Boyd said. 

“I never heard them say it was harmful when they got debt relief,” said Boyd. “It’s a continuation of what Black farmers have been facing in this country, what you’re seeing going on in these courts.”

We want our land, we want our money, and we want reparations! Pay US Now!!!

“The Land” featuring John Boyd Jr. and KJ Skippa Mak Marley speaks volumes to the challenges we still face.

I call upon my fellow farmers, neighbors and friends to join us in facing them together.

Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube

For interviews contact John Boyd at or 804-691-8528.

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