Charcoal company gives away 50K free barbecues to Americans in food-insecure communities

The Good Charcoal Company, a sustainable charcoal brand based in New York, has committed to a lifestyle of paying it forward.

Ever since the company’s inception in 2020, CEO and co-founder Ben Jablonski has made it his mission to embrace the community by hosting free barbecues in food-insecure areas across the U.S.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, New York City-based Jablonski said this initiative has always been a priority, even before the company turned a profit.

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“We started doing this before we had a dollar of revenue,” he said. 

“This was part of our ethos and in our heart to begin with.”

While the pandemic was difficult for many families who were out of work, Jablonski started parking a barbecue food truck outside churches, food pantries and food banks to serve meals.

Now, halfway through 2024, the company is poised to mark 50,000 meals given out to people in need.

The Good Charcoal’s barbecues have spanned the nation, popping up in New York, Alabama, California, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Louisiana and other states.

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Each barbecue feeds about 300 people on average, according to Jablonski, and the company has been partnering with a different food pantry each week.

“A little bit of good every week adds up,” he said. “We’re proud of that.”

Jablonski noted that it makes a “big difference” when families can get a hot meal compared to canned foods at many pantries.

“And often it’s the first hot meal in a couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s very meaningful to see the smile that you’re putting on people’s faces.” 

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With food insecurity presenting a “massive problem,” Jablonski said, “What if every company did what we did?”

If that happened, he added, “you probably wouldn’t have food insecurity in America. So that’s something that inspires us. And as we grow, we’ll do more of that work.”

pulled pork sandwiches

Jablonski said he’s also inspired by how passionate Americans are about helping across the country.

“You just start to see how many good people there are in America,” he said. “And how actually similar the North and the South are. The people doing the work in the Bronx could be doing that in Arkansas, could be doing it anywhere.”

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“There’s just a sense of gratefulness from those communities, but you also see how resilient and optimistic so many people are, and that kind of pushes us on to do more.”

Part of the culture

During his childhood in Melbourne, Australia, Jablonski said barbecues were a huge part of the culture.

the good charcoal company founders in front of a mound of charcoal

That love of barbecues inspired Jablonski’s business plan to turn acacia wood, which is found in Namibia, Africa, into chemical-free charcoal.

The density of the wood gives off “much stronger heat” while using less charcoal, he said.

Namibia is home to 100 million acres of invasive acacia wood, which is an obstacle for native animals, like cheetahs, when hunting for food.

Removing the wood and turning it to charcoal allows grass to grow back, which is a “much better source of carbon capture” and also helps to supply land for farmers, Jablonski said.

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In 2024 alone, The Good Charcoal Company has restored 40,000 acres of Namibian grasslands – an area larger than the city of San Francisco.

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“It’s good for you, good for the environment and good for the community,” the CEO said. 

“And we’re just getting started.”

The Good Charcoal is on track to hit $10 million in revenue this year while expanding its partnerships and availability at retailers nationwide.

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