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New Farm-to-Bottle Vodka Fights Hunger in America

A cocktail that gives back — that’s the premise for Danny Lafuente and Dan Maslow’s Simple Vodka, the latest company to enter the social enterprise space. The Idaho-based distillery aims to tackle the issue of food insecurity in the US one bottle at a time, with each sale of its gluten-free potato vodka resulting in the donation of 20 meals through partnerships with local and national hunger relief programs.

Lafuente and Maslow, who met during college, were inspired by companies such as Warby Parker to create a product that generated a positive social impact by empowering consumers to become active philanthropists in the fight against hunger in America. After a night out in Miami drinking Moscow Mules, they realized the answer was right in front of them — and they were drinking it: vodka.

The founders researched organizations working on hunger relief programs across the country, specifically ones carving out solutions to feed those in need while also reducing food waste. During their research, Lafuente and Maslow discovered that while most food is donated and pre-sorted by volunteers, the cost of storing the food and delivering it from fulfillment centers and food banks to the people who need it is high. The pair saw an opportunity to fill this financial gap with their vodka.

But focusing on the social impact of the product wasn’t enough — the production and manufacturing processes for their farm-to-bottle libation also needed to be sustainable. To do this, the company committed to using potatoes sourced from farms within 40 miles of the distillery and use renewable energy sources (25 percent of the distillery’s power is generated by wind) and sustainable manufacturing techniques such as wastewater recycling and byproduct upcycling to keep its environmental impacts down.

Simple’s proprietary four-column fractional distillation process also consumes less energy and generates less waste than any other method, thereby allowing the vodka to be distilled only one time.

Since its launch in New York, Florida and California in May 2017, Simple has donated more than 29,000 meals to hunger relief programs. But Simple has its sights set on something bigger. By 2020, the company aspires to achieve 30 million meals annually. The company is keeping track of the meals it donates on its website, allowing consumers to see the impact of their purchase.

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