“Getting a Credit Builder loan with A4CB was that first initial step to getting my personal credit together”David Fuller
David Fuller was destined to become a food entrepreneur. “I’ve always had a passion for food,” David enthused. “I started to cook very young, when I was in elementary school.” At the age of 15, David was bussing tables, taking orders, handling the register, and cleaning the kitchen at a local restaurant owned by a family friend. David followed this calling to Florida A & M College of Business where he majored in Business Administration and landed a management internship where he learned how to manage a restaurant. He did everything from washing dishes to tending the bar and loved every minute of it.
Over the years, David worked a variety of jobs in the food service industry. While David never had a problem getting job offers, he had difficulty keeping jobs. “I wasn’t in the right mindset,” he explained. During this time he also volunteered at Operation Push, a Chicago based non-profit, where he taught high school students the importance of healthy cooking and eating. It was here that he caught the eye of a Chicago Public Schools culinary instructor who offered David a job. “The universe led me into teaching, which was paramount in my development as a chef,” David said.
While working as an educator, David continued to develop his food products, and in 2012, he started his business Eating to Live. In 2013, David obtained a $1,000 Credit Builder loan from Allies for Community Business to help pay for LLC registration fees, which followed by another $2,500 loan in 2014. In 2015, David was invited to provide 7-8 of his prepared products at a vendor fair hosted by Whole Foods. Soon after Whole Foods purchased 80 cases of his braised green product and David soon became the direct supplier of braised greens for 52 Whole Food stores in the Chicagoland region. That year, David returned to Allies for Community Business for a $3,000 loan to help him fulfill this contract. “I felt as if I had arrived”, David says about the Whole Foods contract.
In 2016, David’s sales grew exponentially and the partnership with Whole Foods opened the doors for expansion into Mariano’s and and Jewel. In 2019, David returned to Allies for Community Business once again and obtained his largest loan from Allies for Community Business yet—a $15,000 loan to help him continue to expand.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Eating to Live’s revenue was drastically impacted. Their airport concessions location has been closed since March, significantly affecting cash flow. David continues to work with Allies for Community Business and has received business coaching, marketing guidance, and financial planning assistance during the pandemic.
Despite these challenges, David sees the pandemic as offering new opportunities to pivot. While David continues to scale his manufacturing business, he is also taking advantage of new income streams such as online cooking classes and virtual kitchen operations.
Wherever his business takes him next, he knows that educating young people will always be part of his mission. “I’m living my dream, and part of my responsibility is to incubate and help other people’s dreams come true.”