With the 2020 elections coming up and voter turnout on the decline over the last few years, organizations have long tried to figure out how to get people out to the voting booths. And with the additional challenge of Covid-19 hitting during early March, the timing isn’t ideal. Even still, Aisha “Pinky” Cole, a successful Atlanta-based restaurateur, wants everyone to make their voices count this election cycle.
Cole is the founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger restaurant chain and food truck in Atlanta, Georgia. The restaurant counts high-profile names like Snoop Dogg and Senator Cory Booker as patrons.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, “Slutty Vegan was on a 50-city food truck pop-up tour, where they decided to use the opportunity to register customers to vote,” according to a press release. “Customers completed their voter registration forms while waiting on line, which was aimed to inspire people in the community to vote in the upcoming elections.”
Impossible Foods caught wind of the initiative. Then, it decided to partner up with Slutty Vegan and rapper Jermaine Dupri, dubbing their collaborative initiative Votenik. To learn more about the partnership, I spoke with Cole as well as Impossible Foods Vice-President Jessica Appelgren.
How the Votenik initiative works
The Votenik initiative, designed to promote voter turnout in various communities, began on June 9th. On that day, the Slutty Vegan food truck parked at Ralph Bunche Middle School on the Southwest side of Atlanta; from 2 to 6 pm, the truck offered complimentary vegan burgers to voters.
“This is the next step in making sure that everyone gets out and vote,” says Cole. “This is the most productive way to get our voices heard.”
In order to maintain Covid-19 precautions, the food truck and its staff will offer hand sanitizer to patrons and will be implementing social distancing measures to ensure voters are at least six feet apart.
How Pinky Cole is partnering with Impossible Foods
As a part of the partnership, Appelgren tells me “Impossible Foods is donating three pallets of burgers to the VoteNik initiative to be distributed throughout the year via the Slutty Vegan food truck.”
“For the Pinky Cole Foundation and Slutty Vegan, Impossible Foods’ contribution helps to fuel our capacity and extend our reach,” Cole tells me.
“Slutty Vegan is still open daily and supporting its restaurant customers but, with product donations from Impossible Foods, we are able to work simultaneously to feed the community in real-time. So, through this philanthropic partnership, we have the ability to be visible in more cities and neighborhoods, and to support local voters by providing free food,” she adds.
Jalen Xing is a Writer at theRising and the co-founder of Students For Hospitals. You can pitch him stories at jalen.xing [at] gmail [dot] com.