Woke Foods is revolutionizing diets, by making plant-based food accessible, irresistible and rooted in the lands of our ancestors.
Woke Foods envisions a world where our people can prepare, eat and indulge in delicious food rooted in ancestral cooking practices. Where our people are able to affordably steward land to grow whole and nourishing foods for the loving-care of bodies of all sizes, both inside and out. We envision a world where Mother Earth’s survival is always centered and uplifted and our consumption and utilization of food is seen as a direct connection to our mental, spiritual and physical health.
Woke Foods is a food service and food justice worker-owned cooperative focused on innovating Dominican and Afro-Caribbean plant-based foods. We provide catering services, dinner experiences, and food justice workshops that serve both communities and organizations.
Food Justice and Sovereignty | Racial Equity & Gender Equity | Economic and Social Justice
We cook recipes that highlight natural, organic foods that are plant-based, culturally relevant, and familiar to our communities through Afro-Caribbean recipes and flavor. We recognize that eating organic has not supported low income folks and we seek to dismantle the systems that make it costly for us to take care of ourselves. We value black and brown communities around the world having affordable access to all food especially, nutrient rich food and the land on which to produce it and are working with community sourced agriculture (CSAs) and other groups to ensure this happens. As a worker-owned and green cooperative business we pay ourselves a wage that supports our real lives and strive to make decisions for the business that support a solidarity economy and our environment.
Woke Foods Timeline
2015 - Ysanet Batista and Merelis Catalina Ortiz, Woke Foods founders, meet at a women's circle gathering in Washington Heights.
2016 - Ysanet Batista quit her non-profit job to focus more on work that addressed racism and systems of oppression, shortly after Woke Foods was born. Ysanet who had been cooking for most of her life and at the same time have dived into community organizing, began to see the intersection of food, health, and race, and how our current food system was negatively impacting the health of our black and brown communities. While living in Washington Heights in the apartment of her friend Heidi Maria Lopez, she started preparing foods to address these issues by offering food that was healthy and culturally relevant in the form of meal planning and catering. Woke Foods truly began to take shape with the advice, input, and word of mouth marketing of Ysanet’s close friends like Heidi Maria Lopez, Luis Tapia, and Merelis Catalina Ortiz. As Woke Foods was embraced by Washington Heights and South Bronx, the need for this work became increasingly apparent and necessary. When the opportunity to enroll in Green Workers Cooperative Co-op Academy, a development program that guides and aides people of color to launch cooperative businesses, Ysanet reached out to two potential business partners to grow the business into a worker coop, Merelis Catalina Ortiz and Claudia Mena. Claudia had worked with Ysanet at NYC Farmers Market and has successfully launched a juicing business. They started coop academy and learned about Ysanet’s goals for Woke Foods and found their values were aligned in many ways and wanted to be a part of growing the business.
2017 - Woke Foods graduated from Green Workers Cooperative’ Co-op Academy, and formed as a green cooperative business. This piece is important to Woke Foods because the business is part of a movement that is much larger than themselves. A movement working towards food sovereignty (where all people exercise the right to control our own food systems), building a strong local economy within the Bronx and Northern Manhattan rooted in democracy and environmental justice.
2018 - Woke Foods was accepted into the incubator commercial kitchen, Hot Bread Kitchen in East Harlem AND received a loan from The Working World. Claudia Mena and Merelis Catalina Ortiz have moved on to do other work within food movement and wellness. However, much of the development, experimentation, and success of the business and vision is attributed to the collective work of Claudia, Merelis, Ysanet + their friends & family.
2019 - Woke Foods is run by Ysanet Batista, Frances Perez-Rodriguez, Maya Reyes, and Raina Robinson - 4 women of color. They have catered for events at non-profits, grassroots organization, social justice conferences, and even the wedding of two beloved community organizers! Recently, they were awarded a grant by Citizens Committee for New York City, to offer free cooking classes for people living in affordable housing in NYC. Woke Foods has been featured on Harlem Focus via Medium, Blavity and Vibe Viva and has been named NYC’s first Dominican vegan food business.