Written by: Alejandra Zamora
Since Common Threads’ inception nearly two decades ago, the organization has always had great engagement and support from corporate and foundation partners over the years, with several groups stepping forward to indicate support for cooking and nutrition education. In late 2020, one particular partnership started heating up, opening a spicy new world for Common Threads.
First We Feast is a digital media brand that bridges the gap between food, drinks and pop culture. You may know them from two of their most well-loved programs, The Burger Show and Hot Ones, which are fun, niche-specific shows that talk with A-list celebrities like Kevin Hart, Elijah Wood and Charlize Theron all while making you drool for burgers and wings. The First We Feast team approached Common Threads via email in fall 2020, indicating that the organization was very aligned with First We Feast’s goals for cause marketing. The resulting conversations showed that First We Feast is just as passionate and delighted about food and nutrition as Common Threads is.
“When we were looking for charities to partner with, we fell in love with Common Threads,” said Dominique Burroughs, a producer at First We Feast. “The mission of giving back to the communities by teaching the next generation about nutrition and providing meals to families in need was so powerful; we wanted to be a part of it.”
The Common Threads team quickly realized that a partnership between two different brands that both prioritized making good food fun and approachable would flourish. Now, a little over a year since Common Threads was selected as the official charity partner of First We Feast, so many wonderful creations and rewards have come about as a result. Here are some of our favorite highlights of the Common Threads x First We Feast friendship.
Picture Hot Ones host Sean Evans and iconic chef Gordon Ramsay chaotically laughing (and try not to break down) while eating super spicy wings and acclaimed rapper and producer T-Pain accepting a trophy shaped like a bottle of hot sauce. That’s essentially a glimpse of what went down at the Hot Ones Holiday Extravaganza, one of our biggest fundraising collaborations with First We Feast that resulted in over $130,000 in funds raised for Common Threads during the 2021 holiday season.
As Evans said, “every little bit counts to help kids in under-resourced communities make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn and play.”
The Holiday Extravaganza also featured the launch of Hot Ones Jr., a mild, green hot sauce that was specially created for children. Four students from longtime Common Threads partner Brooklyn Green School were featured as product testers. The tastefully green sauce celebrates an array of complementary flavors like mildly spicy jalapeño peppers, tart green apples, sweet bananas and other yummy ingredients.
“As a project, it’s probably one of things we’re most proud of in our nearly 10 years as a brand, and the ‘Hot Ones Jr,’ segment that we produced with the help of students from Common Threads was so fun and heartwarming,” said Chris Schonberger, the creator and executive producer of Hot Ones. “Seeing our audience rally around the cause and donate nearly $130,000 really galvanized the team around the impact this partnership can have.”
Summer Health Campaign
A staple of Common Threads is its annual Summer Health Campaign, where the team initiates a focused fundraising and awareness effort to address issues of food insecurity in the summer months. The end of school also means the end of reliable, consistent meals like breakfast and lunch for the length of the break, as well as a “summer slide” of knowledge that happens because students are out of the classroom for a long period of time. When First We Feast heard of Common Threads’ goal to combat some of these typical occurrences, they jumped on board with their support, helping to promote the campaign. In total, the campaign exceeded its $15,000 fundraising goal!
So many nutritious summer recipes and health tips were shared with and loved by students and more thanks to this campaign; in fact, Burroughs found a new favorite drink thanks to the summer health campaign!
“The strawberry pineapple agua fresca is a fun, refreshing drink on a hot day. I’ve actually made it a few times and had the ingredients ready in my fridge all last summer!”
Hot Ones Products for Kids
Children are the main motivators behind everything we do at Common Threads, so it was only natural that First We Feast created their very own hot sauce for kids.
First We Feast also created a puzzle for kids (and kids-at-heart) to solve when they’re not teasing their taste buds with heat. A portion of the proceeds from each puzzle sale benefits Common Threads, yet another way for the First We Feast brand to give back.
Clearly, the love is felt all around, from our Common Threads class students to our friends at First We Feast and employees here at our organization, including our CEO and co-founder, Linda Novick-O’Keefe.
“After 18 years of doing this work, one of my biggest lessons has been that partnerships matter. In fact, partnerships are everything,” she said. “Common Threads is grateful to be the official charity partner of First We Feast; their support has raised funding for our programs and generated awareness for our organization and the importance and connection between healthy cooking, eating and living.”
Common Threads’ partnership with First We Feast has been nothing short of amazing and a great success since inception, and we can’t wait to see what else we cook up in the near future. Stay tuned!
ABOUT COMMON THREADS
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play. We know that food is rooted in culture and tradition so we promote diversity in our lessons and recipes, encouraging our participants to celebrate the world around them.