We love when we get to drink and help others at the same time, and we especially love it when spirits brands allow us to do that by engaging in charitable work through donations, initiatives, etc. One of the newest brands to do so is Simple Vodka.
The genesis for Simple came when the two founders, Danny LaFuente (CEO) and Dan Maslow (president), were working at a company in Miami that donated food from events to a local food shelter. From this experience, they learned that one in six Americans are food insecure.
“My co-founder and I were horrified once we did a little research into the issue — more than 50 million Americans were going hungry every day. So many organizations and brands work to alleviate problems abroad, but we wanted to make an impact at home,” LaFuente says.
It was one thing to donate food on a small scale, but there are bigger concerns beyond a trip here or there to the food bank. Plenty of retailers around Miami and the entire country waste food daily, throwing it out even though it is still good. If the food actually makes it to a distribution center, it’s usually monitored for quality control and portioning before being sent out into the community.
There are many organizations that are set up to do this, but, LaFuente says, even though the food is free, the cost of running such operations can still be pretty high when you consider factors like storage and delivery.
“That is where Simple comes in. For every bottle of Simple Vodka produced, not just sold, we contribute to these organizations so that they can deliver at least 20 meals to those in need. Twenty meals per bottle; one drink, one meal.”
Since launching in May 2017 in Florida and New York, Simple has already donated 29,000 meals. The goal is to achieve 30 million meals annually by 2020.
“While our target is ambitious, it is nowhere near a complete solution. Moreover, expected budget cuts might lead to nearly $200 billion in funding reduction for hunger relief initiatives in the U.S. As such, it’s up to private industry and philanthropy to fill that gap, and we’re as committed as ever to doing so,” LaFuente says.
The vodka itself, which is 40 percent ABV, is made in eastern Idaho from potatoes that are sourced within 40 miles of where it is distilled. Nine pounds of potatoes are used per bottle, and every potato used goes from the ground to vodka in six days or less. In addition, the distillery uses wind energy for 25 percent of the total energy needed to run the distillery operation. Simple also received a Double Gold medal from the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
As far as the name and logo goes, the S, LaFuente says, stands for the simplicity of the product — water and potatoes — as well as the three core ideas that drive the business: superior quality, sustainability, and social impact in the community.
You can see how many meals the team has currently donated (in real time) on the website. Simple Vodka retails for around $27.