Students make business out of healthy food creations for community

PHILADELPHIA -- PHILADELPHIA -- A group of local high school students are budding entrepreneurs on a mission to change their community one healthy meal at a time. Their next goal is to open a student-run convenience store.

Three days a week, after school, these students invest their time in what has become a flourishing business. One that was born while most of its founders were in middle school.

"This helped me develop important life skills because this prepared me for my future," said Tre'cia Gibson, co-executive director of Rebel Ventures.

Rebel Ventures is a non-profit organization comprised of primarily high school students in the Philadelphia School District looking to radically change the way their peers eat by developing and making healthier food more accessible to inner-city kids. Their first product is called Rebel Crumbles.

"We worked on the recipe for a year trying out many different recipes. I was caked out because we had to try so many different recipes and there were requirements we had to meet," said Gibson.

"I learned so much about cooking healthy food and how to incorporate healthiness into good food, which is healthy deliciousness," said student, William Chaney.

Created in 2017, Crumbles is the first student-produced food to be available in all district schools. More than a million have already been distributed.

The caliber of students and their commitment to this project has been amazing to watch," said Amy Virus, manager of operations for the School District of Philadelphia. "I've worked with these students for a number of years now and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of energy that they have for this project."

The next goal is to open up Rebel Market. A corner store located in West Philadelphia stocked with healthy food options at affordable prices.

It's set to open sometime next year with the longtime support of Penn's Netter Center.

"We are thinking about making foods that we know kids like, making them healthier, having kids make them, having kids running the operation and having that be a real place that kids can go to and shop at," said Jarrett Stein, Rebel Ventures co-founder, and co-executive director.

"Their initiative is incredible-- I think a demonstration to other folks in other parts of the city that if it can be done here. It can be done in lots of other places," said Jeff Hornstein, executive director of the Economy League of Philadelphia.

Gibson hopes what she and her peers are doing will inspire other young aspiring entrepreneurs in their communities to take a leap of faith.

"Even if things are hard, keep pushing forward because you have to start somewhere to start a business," said Gibson.

The students are still raising funds to open up their convenience store.