Diamonique Lundy ’21 was so excited to be accepted into Montclair State’s Master of Science program in Nutrition and Food Science. “It is one of the few graduate programs in this field in New Jersey,” she notes.
Lundy had always been fascinated by the holistic approach of nutrition science, and by the role our diets play in our overall health. “I love the idea of farm to table, and of knowing where your ingredients come from,” she says. “Plus, I really enjoy cooking. It is so rewarding to use great ingredients and recipes to make healthy meals.”
Lundy’s coursework at Montclair State added a new dimension to her thinking, however. “I was learning that many communities, both urban and rural, do not have access to fresh ingredients, which leads to poor health and dietary diseases,” she says. “In addition, the communities that lacked access to healthy eating options tended to be populated by people of color.”
She began constructing workshops to educate people about nutritious eating from a culturally competent viewpoint, and she began thinking about how she could make healthy, fresh food that is convenient and represents what people really like to eat.
The result is SoLo’s Food, a meal prep service specializing in healthy and authentic soul, Caribbean and Latin food. The company offers research-based meal plans that allow people to enjoy their cultural foods while also meeting their healthy eating goals. The entrepreneurial venture was one of the winning teams at Montclair State’s 2020 Startup Montclair pitch competition, sponsored by the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The company is already reaching a national market and Lundy, who was a featured speaker at the University’s Women Entrepreneurship Week 2021, has plans for more. She earned a coveted spot in Target’s Accelerator program, an online incubator for some of the country’s most promising entrepreneurs. “My goal is to get SoLo’s Food onto retail shelves, to bring healthy food to an even broader population,” she says.
“Montclair State provided my first adult experience with social justice,” Lundy continues, noting that during her years as a student at the University, she also worked part-time on campus as a graduate program coordinator. “In addition to the conversations and projects that were part of my classes, Montclair State connected me with volunteer opportunities at a community garden and food pantry in Paterson. I learned so much from these experiences. I learned the importance of equity and inclusion, and of making sure everyone is represented and has a voice.”
It’s a philosophy that infuses all of Lundy’s entrepreneurial ventures, including Origin Elite, an online clothing boutique that merges a polished prep aesthetic with youthful urban style, and WEALTTH Social, a social networking mobile app for business-to-consumer professionals.
This year, Lundy will continue promoting and connecting people of color who are making a difference in the world through a Creators for the Culture expo event. “We will be highlighting creators of color who are not usually recognized by mainstream media – writers, artists, bloggers, podcasters, actors, dancers, entrepreneurs and producers. Special guests will join us from BET, Spotify, and Black Lives Matter-Greater New York.”
Although most of the event will be held virtually, Lundy has included an in-person component at Become Studio in Irvington, New Jersey.
Despite the demands of entrepreneurship, network building, and lifting up the talents of others, Lundy finds time to give back to the community. “I particularly like mentoring students,” she says. “It wasn’t so long ago that I was a student myself. I remember not knowing what my options were. I can help show them the opportunities that are out there.”
“I can encourage them to stay focused on authenticity and execution,” Lundy adds, “and to always be authentic in what they believe and in their life’s mission. When you are sure of your purpose and goals and you keep them front and center in your mind, you can put your energy into executing your plans.”