Eat the 80 is a locally owned and operated healthy meal delivery service co-founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Chris and Carlee Marhefka. The Business Report sat down with Carlee to discuss her passion for helping people eat healthily, and how Eat the 80 evolved from an idea into a successful business.
TBR: Will you explain the business model of Eat the 80 for readers who may not have heard of your business?
Marhefka: Eat the 80 is a healthy meal delivery company, whose mission is to help people become healthier and happier. We source local ingredients and use them to prepare delicious, fully-cooked meals. All our clients have to do is heat them up. We offer a variety of different meals plan options and sizes to accommodate different nutritional needs.
Clients can sign-up on our website and pick their meals, which will be delivered directly to their door every Monday and Thursday.
TBR: How did you come up with the idea for Eat the 80?
Marhefka: My husband, Chris, and I were looking for ways to further help the members of B3, the gym we own in town. We knew that physical training only helped them get so far toward their health and wellness goals, and that a big piece is also nutrition. There was a real disconnect between the majority of our clients’ goals and their actual ability to cook well for themselves.
That’s how the idea for Eat the 80 was born. If people eat well 80% of the time, their bodies reap the benefits. We knew if we could provide healthy meals to our members, and get them closer to that 80%, they would be healthier and happier. We also knew it was unrealistic to expect people to eat well all day, every day. That’s where that 20% comes in. We want to encourage realistic, healthy and positive relationships with food.
TBR: There are many ways to think about health, and different definitions for what it means to “eat healthily”. What is your personal theory on the subject?
Marhefka: At Eat the 80, we believe healthy eating means eating as close to nature as possible, with as few ingredients as possible. Jamie Oliver is famous for saying “Real food doesn’t have ingredients. Real food is ingredients.” And that really resonates with me. Therefore, if it’s processed, packaged or artificial, we simply don’t use it.
We try to source every ingredient as locally as possible. We make that a priority by partnering with local farms such as Frog Song and Swallowtail. We also make everything from scratch, which means longer hours in the kitchen, but better quality products for our customers.
TBR: You mentioned there are various meal plans available. What different options can customers choose between?
Marhefka: We offer three different meal plans and provide breakfast, lunch and dinner options under each. The plans vary because nutrition is a very personal subject. Everybody is different, and some people can tolerate certain ingredients that others cannot.
Our paleo meal plan simply includes protein and vegetables. The vegan plan is without any animal protein, and includes farm-to-table produce and gluten-free grains. Finally, there’s the traditional meal plan that includes all three elements of protein, vegetables and gluten-free grains.
TBR: Have you found that Gainesville, as a location, is a good fit for your business?
Marhefka: Definitely. Gainesville is a health-conscious community full of people who value taking care of themselves, so opening a healthy meal delivery service here just made sense. There was definitely an existing need for a service like this, as our business has grown from day one.
TBR: How many employees do you have at Eat the 80, and how would you describe your approach to being a leader?
Marhefka: We currently employ 12 people, three on the management team, and nine on the kitchen staff. We treat our team like family — happy employees make the world go round! When you invest in your people, and they know you care, there is nothing that can replace that.
TBR: What is your favorite part of running your business?
Marhefka: There is nothing more gratifying than providing a service that allows people to live as the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves. Knowing that our meals support local farmers and provide nutrition to our community is such a great feeling.
TBR: Any final words you’d like to share with readers?
Marhefka: Life is about balance, and no one way of eating is perfect. We want people to know that food is something that should truly be enjoyed, and that eating healthy can taste great! Every time you eat, you can make the choice to nourish your body, and it might as well taste great too.
For more information on Eat the 80, visit EatThe80.com.