By Stef Tschida
Fueled by Purpose is the nonprofit sister company to My Founder Story and is dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $200,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners. To learn more and apply, visit our grants page.
When she was a student at the University of Maryland, Tanekia Farmer often got distracted watching the culinary students through the classroom window as they prepped food and assembled their dishes. She’d watch as long as she could and then she would peel herself away at the last minute and dash to her own classes. Food wasn’t the focus of her studies, but it had always been a big part of her life, from delicious family meals cooked by her great-grandmother and grandmother, to emulating Food Network stars as a teenager, to cooking big meals for her college friends.
Tanekia majored in criminal justice. After years working with children and families in tough situations, the stress took its toll. She decided she was ready for a change. Around that time, she started experiencing severe gastrointestinal issues. After surgery and medication that made her feel worse, she did her own research on how to heal herself. She learned that meat and dairy were harming her body and decided to give it all up, with the exception of fish. For Tanekia, the transformation was magical. It enabled her to quit using medication and alleviated the often-crippling pain she’d experienced.
A source of joy for Tanekia was researching and cooking dishes that met her new dietary needs. When friends and family tasted her food, they couldn’t believe it didn’t contain meat or dairy. Tanekia participated in a personal and professional development program and finally got clear on what she really wanted—to own a business, cook for others, and promote healthy living. In 2017, she launched Veganeik, a catering company that specializes in vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian dishes. Her lucky break came just a month into her business, when she catered a friend’s 100-person event and her food wowed the group.
Tanekia’s business took off through word of mouth and continued to do so until COVID-19 shut down most of the country. When her catering business came to a halt, she quickly pivoted her business to meal prep and delivery. She continues to receive wonderful feedback from her clients about how her healthy food is making their lives better, and it’s enough to get by for now. But Tanekia looks forward to cooking for larger groups again in the future.
Tanekia plans to use her Fueled by Purpose grant to purchase a camera to capture and share high-quality images and video from her home kitchen.
To learn more about Tanekia’s business, visit Veganiek.com.
To learn more about and apply for a Fueled by Purpose micro grant, visit our grants page.
About the author: Stef Tschida is a former corporate communicator and lifelong storyteller. Stef’s WHY became clear when she worked at her daily campus newspaper. She realized she didn’t want to ask tough questions as a reporter—she wanted to help organizations answer those tough questions. She’s been doing that work ever since.