Meet the Makers: Partake Foods

 
denise woodard partake foods
 

It started with a simple question — why don’t you ever give your daughter cookies? While most of us might have just looked up a recipe, the question inspired one mom to launch an entire business. A daughter with multiple food allergies, including several outside of the Top 8, was the driving force behind Denise Woodard’s leap out of a high ranking job at Coca-Cola and into the world of making cookies that taste great.

Partake Foods cookies

Why did you have to make your own company?

Everywhere I turned, the cookies I was finding either had too much sugar or just weren’t a healthy alternative. If I found healthy cookies that worked with my daughter, Vivienne’s, allergies, they didn’t taste great. Instead of being frustrated with the options, I was determined to create what I wanted. Partake Foods is a better ‘free from’ alternative. We have 20-30% less sugar, incorporate fruits and vegetables into our cookies and have more fiber and protein than what is out there on the shelves. Our cookies taste great and also happen to be allergy-friendly.

You’re a woman on a mission — are you a baker too?

Baking isn’t my forte, like many other allergy moms, I have become self taught out of necessity. I realized that in order to expedite the process of formulating a cookie that everyone would enjoy, I would need to enlist professional help. Shauna Ahern, award winning author of Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, was the perfect woman for the job. Together we created a cookie that tastes great, is a healthy choice and is free of the Top 8 major allergens (in addition to a few others); one in which everyone can "partake".

Denise Woodard and daughter Vivienne baking

Your facility is free from more than just the Top 8!

All of our cookies are free from the Top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish), as well as mustard, sesame and sulphites. We even took the extra step to be Certified Gluten Free and Certified Vegan to be even more accessible for people with restrictive diets.

As an allergy mom, it was also important for me to have clear labeling. Calling out exactly what each product is free from is just as important as the ingredient list. We clearly state what ingredients are included in the cookies as well as all allergens they are free from and third party certifications.

Why the name Partake?

I wanted to create a feeling of inclusiveness and let everyone partake in delicious foods, whether they have an allergy or not. Having a daughter with allergies to wheat, corn, eggs, tree nuts and bananas opened my eyes to the need for inclusive products, especially when it comes to allergens that are not included in the Top 8.

Partake Foods cookie product boxes

What can we buy right now?

We have Sprouted Grain Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies, Carrot Oat Mini Cookies and Sweet Potato Millet Mini Cookies.

People Magazine Features and Google Awards, Congrats!

Thank You! Yes, I am honored to be included in the company of the Google Black Founders as one of the only non-technology companies in the competition, and receiving the top award for entrepreneurial achievement. We also won the Start Something Challenge in 2016 which is an award for small businesses who are transforming lives and communities. Partake was also recently featured in People Magazine, so it is all very exciting for us.

You are an inspiration to everyone that has an idea. Any advice for anyone who has an idea but is not sure how to move forward?

If you are passionate about something and you see a gap that needs to be filled, figure out where the gaps in your knowledge are and find those people! I was the right person at the right time to start Partake. My background in CPG working with brands that were entrepreneurial gave me the confidence to follow my passion even though I was not a baker. The mama bear in me, concerned about my daughter feeling left out, gave me the push to get started.

What is coming out next?

We are working on a new cookie flavor due out early next year and are beginning formulation on a new product that will be announced at Expo West in March!

In your dreams, what does Partake look like?

I envision Partake Foods as a trusted leader in the industry, offering meals and snacks throughout the day. It is a brand that will stay true to its core value of being a healthy, tasty food choice.

We want cookies!

Right now, you can find the Sprouted Grain Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies in the Spokin app where you can swipe to see the product label, allergen statement and make your purchase! Or you can buy all of our products on our website too! If you are in the New York area, you can find them in a number of stores or check our website to see if they are at a store near you.

Vivienne Woodard with Partake cookies

What is always in your pantry?

Of course, Partake Foods' cookies! Otherwise, we always have quinoa. I typically make a big batch at the start of the week, and we use it for quinoa bowls for breakfast, as a side dish, and mixed with protein and veggies for a main course. My family is trying to eat a more plant-based diet, so quinoa has become my best friend!

Salty or Sweet?

Sweet, definitely!

Favorite hometown allergy-friendly restaurant?

BareBurger. We love BareBurger! Literally, the second question they ask when we sit down is "Does anyone have allergies?" At the location that my family frequents, they have dedicated fryers, and they also use really high quality ingredients - grass-fed beef, free range chicken, local produce - as well as offer a range of items (depending on how healthy you feel like being!) from salads to burgers and fries.

 

For more information check out the Partake Foods website!