Dish Works Studio

Helping to ease food insecurity while celebrating local food culture in Lancaster, PA

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00:05  Probably the number one thing that leaders and business owners can do is to make sure that you remember you don't have a company without your people, and so you should absolutely invest in those people and make sure that they are set up for success.

00:44  Hello, it's great to be with you all. I'm Kim Harding, I'm a marketing executive at Truist and today I'm joined by Mary Bigham, the CEO of Dish Works. If we think about what we do every day at Truist is really about inspiring and building better lives and communities. And I know your organization has really been just instrumental in the communities in doing that.

00:59  Yes. So I started food blogging about 15 years ago, and then in about 2014, I realized there was a shift in what brands were doing to communicate with their audiences and a lot of my clients and advertisers through the blog now wanted their own blog. They wanted content on their own channels. They wanted content for their social media platforms as all of these social media platforms were evolving and becoming what we know them to be today.

01:33  So I run a company called Dish Works Studio. We create food and drink content for some global brands. Which food content is a recipe development, food photography, food videos, stop motion articles, blog posts, any sort of thing that can be consumed by someone, either by reading or watching or looking at something. And I realized that the blog that started everything really deserved to serve a bigger purpose to turn it into a nonprofit which has a mission to help celebrate Pennsylvania food culture.

02:13  But I didn't think we could do that authentically without acknowledging that a lot of our neighbors are food insecure. And in Pennsylvania, one in nine people are food insecure. one in seven children are food insecure. So we have a two part mission to celebrate our food culture in Pennsylvania and to help fight food insecurity in my great home state of Pennsylvania.

02:36  So what is your original passion for this? Is it food or was it actual  like content video publishing journalism?

02:44  Before I started food blogging, I realized that my passion is that I need to communicate about food and drink. I love it so much. I chose my college because of the dining hall, Amanda. I'm not kidding. I went in on a tour. They made me a pizza how I wanted it. A done deal. Sign me up. It was both things. It is the food, but it's the communicating around it.

03:07 When you're talking about the kind of volume that you're producing, it's like, what is your like content management system look like? Like, how do you keep track of all of this?

03:13  Well, first of all, we have the best team on the planet. Our mission is to be the best food content agency globally, and I am, of course, biased. But our team is the best and we balance each other out for what we're what one person is good at and one person is not good at and we are vulnerable about those skills and then we help fill in the blanks together.

03:38  And then we've got amazingly talented videographers, photographers, editors and it's it's truly a team sport. And that's something that's really important is when you think about the trust of the community, the people that you serve. And, you know, even when you think about what your mission is, is to be the absolute best. It's incredible. And you know, when you think about the similarities between your organization and what we stand for at Truist it’s really about, you know, that one team effort.

04:04  Thank you. Yeah.

04:05  And as far as giving back to the community, I do think that the number one thing that business leaders can do is invest in their people so that they can also serve the community with you together.

04:17  I love how when we think about how you started it, it really came from your purpose and the passion, you know, and when you back into it, it sounds so simplistic. You love food and you love drink, but think about how you just really changed this into, you know, your livelihood and that of so many others. Can we can we shift gears a little bit and talk about it PA Eats and what you're trying to do around food insecurity in Pennsylvania?

04:39  Yeah, of course. And I'll just introduce Noodles because he is making an appearance here while I'm answering this. PA Eats has a dual mission. It's to celebrate Pennsylvania food culture. And that is because we need to put a spotlight on these small producers. Kimberly, a lot of the folks who bank with you, these small businesses that can't afford marketing help.

05:00  Amanda, you know that. They have small and or nonexistent marketing budgets.

05:06  And so the platform, I think, is really important to put a spotlight on these people who are growing our food, making our food and running our small businesses. So we do a lot of spotlights there. And then as far as fighting insecurity is the second part of our mission. We reached out to our friends and partners at Feeding PA, which is a Pennsylvania branch of the National Association Feeding America.

05:32  They said, “anyone can write a check. What we need is education”. A lot of people who find themselves in a position where they are needing to go to a food pantry, it's like the show Chopped. You get a box of food and you don't know necessarily what to do with it. The education piece that we can help with is to show them what to do with that food. How do we transform those ingredients and turn them into a nourishing meal for ourselves and our and our loved ones?

06:03  I love that! It is something that every human being deserves. And so the fact that you're translating those recipes into something that's specific to what's available in different scenarios is really that's really beautiful.

06:16  We do need help to get printed materials of these recipes and distribute them to the 2700 pantries throughout the state of Pennsylvania. So we are looking for a print sponsor to help help us do that. And we also are hoping to do a kitchen kit in addition to the knowledge of being able to transform ingredients into meals. We also need equipment to do that. Sothe hope is to put together cooking utensils, you know, the ten basic utensils and cookware items that you need to make these 100 recipes a year, so that that's also something if you don't have the right equipment, you can't bring these recipes to life.

06:57  You know, I think about it, so many things happen around a dinner table or around food, and you're providing food  security and dignity for so many, you know, as you think about how that translates to the kids and confidence. You know, I can go on and on and on about the impact you're making. And I think this is absolutely incredible. I commend you for not just stopping at a place that was, you know, commercially interesting to you and your team, but taking that a step further and using it to make other people's lives more joyous. And yeah. This is great.

07:27  So as you're talking to people in and have an opportunity for people to hear your story, how can other people help? How can they join this effort?

07:34  Well, you can go to, and we have many different membership levels that you, an individual or business can join. Become a member. You can become a sponsor.

07:44  And if you are a business with the heart. Kimberly, I know you. I don't know if you oversee the marketing budget for Truist, but hey.

07:54  Truist has a big heart we're about care, so we will definitely help you out.

07:57  Anyone listening, we would love your support to help us do that and build out these kitchen kits to give the materials that folks need to to nourish themselves and their families.