Baton Rouge start-up provides 30,000 meals a week for K-12 students in seven parishes
BATON ROUGE, La. (April 28, 2022) – Focus Foods, a meal solutions manufacturer that has provided more than 25 million meals to schools, households, care facilities and disaster areas since 2019, announced a $1.7 million expansion and relocation from its Celtic Studios base of operations to a larger site in Baton Rouge. The project will create 100 direct new jobs with an average annual salary of $45,000, plus benefits. Focus Foods is retaining 333 jobs, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 220 indirect jobs in Louisiana’s Capital Region. Focus Foods began as a network of former food truck owners who merged their skills and talents to develop and manufacture easy-to-prepare frozen meals. At the start of the pandemic, the company prioritized meals for in-home consumption provided to elementary and high school students who had switched to a virtual or at-home setting.
“In the face of challenges, Louisiana entrepreneurs put forth innovations that drive solutions,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Focus Foods did exactly that when the pandemic created an urgent need for food options for students and other customers. This expansion demonstrates the importance of Louisiana’s support for small business owners, whose entrepreneurial spirit can spur investment, drive job creation and strengthen communities.”
Focus Foods plans to move its corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations into the 75,000 square-foot former Valluzzo-McDonald’s distribution plant in August. It will add 15,000 square feet to the facility for an industrial culinary kitchen and a shelf-stable food manufacturing center.
“This expansion of our infrastructure will allow us to broaden the positive impact that our company has on food insecurity needs for Louisiana’s children and elderly,” Focus Foods Chief Marketing Officer Ned Fasullo said. The company provides 30,000 meals for K-12 students across seven parish school districts each week through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child & Adult Care Feeding Program. In addition to school and home delivery, Focus Foods operates eight owned distribution sites and 50 partner sites across 11 parishes.
“I am elated to see the expansion of Focus Foods in our community here in East Baton Rouge Parish,” East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said. “This service not only meets the needs of our community through their meal preparation services, but it also introduces new job opportunities during a season when many of our residents are seeking employment opportunities.”
To secure Focus Foods’ expansion in Baton Rouge, the State of Louisiana provided the company with a comprehensive incentive package that includes the services of LED FastStart, the No. 1 statewide workforce development programming the U.S. Focus Foods is expected to participate in the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. The company also will receive a $100,000 award from the state’s Economic Development Award Program.
“Not only is this an exciting economic development project, bringing 100 new jobs to the region in a rapidly expanding sector, but it’s also a feel-good community story,” said President and CEO Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “BRAC has been pleased to support Focus Foods’ evolution from local startup to major employer, and we look forward to partnering on their future success.”
About Focus Foods
Headquartered in Louisiana, Focus Foods is the leading provider of innovative meal solutions in the Gulf South Region. The company operates in the education, senior/elderly, co-packing & retail service segments catering to the unique needs of each. Since 2019, the company has served over 25 million meals, today providing more than 30,000 meals per week. Focus Foods accomplishes this through an unmatched production and logistics system using our own fleet of delivery vehicles, and an experienced team of supervisors and managers dedicated to the task of creating happy customers/partners by delivering the most innovative meal solutions in the Gulf South Region. For more information, visit www.focusfoods.us.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at brac.org.