BOWIE STATE U. PARTNERS WITH PLANT-BASED EVERYTHING LEGENDARY
The startup, cofounded by an alumnus, supplies vegan proteins to the campus. A startup co-founded by a Bowie State University
To kick off the partnership, the college presented a vegan burger and taco bar. Beyond that, Bowie State menus have incorporated the vegan proteins in several ways, Smith says. They show up at the BeWell station, which promotes healthy choices; in tacos and other dishes at Baja Grill, a Mexican retail outlet; and occasionally at the grill station in burger form. “We’re probably using it three to five days a week in something,” Smith says. Dishes using the product are labeled for students. “When it’s in a recipe we will put out an Everything Legendary sign, so everyone knows what they’re getting.” Everything Legendary has boosted the profile of its product on campus through shrewd marketing, Smith adds. For the official launch, for example, the company hosted a party, complete with a disc jockey and videographer, and posted clips on social media. They recently staged a carnival. And they occasionally park a food truck on campus. The student response to the addition has been positive. “We don’t have a large population of vegans or vegetarians, but those that have tried it have really liked it,” Smith says. He also expects demand for products like this to continue growing. “It seems like half of my daughter’s friends are vegan or vegetarian; we’re seeing that more and more with freshmen coming in,” Smith adds. In 2023, Everything Legendary has partnered with the Baltimore’s SEED School of Maryland to offer vegan fare during National Nutrition Month. Following the month’s theme of sustainable eating, the school served Everything Legendary burgers along with BeWell sweet potato skins and healthy berry-lime coco refreshers. (BeWell is a healthy dining platform from Elior North America, Aladdin’s parent company.) And an upcoming pilot program at Washington Adventist University
grad, Everything Legendary recently made its first foray into campus dining. Since late 2022, the Maryland college has partnered with the brand to feature its plant-based burgers, crumbles and chicken substitutes in its dining and retail operations. Everything Legendary already had an in: co- founder Danita Claytor is a Bowie State grad. But an appearance on “Shark Tank” and a $300,000 commitment by Mark Cuban, which triggered additional investment in the company, helped raise its profile and pave the way for the partnership with Bowie State. So did the brand’s retail presence in stores like Whole Foods and Target. Claytor and cofounder Duane Cheers started developing their product in a home kitchen in 2021, a response to complaints by Cheers’s mother about the lack of good-tasting burger options for vegans. The entrepreneurial venture took off quickly; within 15 months, Everything Legendary products could be found on thousands of grocery shelves. Last fall, Bowie State officials introduced Claytor to foodservice operator Aladdin Campus Dining and asked the company to give Everything Legendary a try. “We brought them on campus for a tasting, and it went pretty well. We’ve been using the product ever since,” says Rich Smith, Aladdin’s interim resident district manager.
Bowie State incorporates Everything Legendary plant-based proteins across the menu.
in Maryland, an all-vegan school, may present perhaps the ultimate challenge.
“We’re trying to create a repeatable model that we can carry to other schools,” Smith says.
Christina Coble, a district manager for Aladdin, points out that a partnership like this needs consistency to succeed. “It’s really important for foodservice directors and chefs to follow a proven process so it can be repeatable,” she notes. “You have to get dietitians and chefs to really embrace the product so recipes and nutritionals can be developed around it.” Aladdin chose some of its most popular recipes and requested they be adapted to use Everything Legendary in place of traditional animal proteins. Next came staff taste tests, then final recipes. “It’s the only way you’re going to get traction with something like this,” she says. “It’s not a sustainable partnership otherwise.” Coble says Aladdin is committed to expanding Everything Legendary’s reach into school and college foodservice—“not only because of the Bowie connection, but because they’re great people, and we want to make sure we’re doing them right,” she adds.
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