Shanita McAfee-Bryant

Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

Shanita McAfee-Bryant

Today's Guest: Shanita McAfee-Bryant

Founder and Executive Director - The Prospect KC

Kansas City, MO

Ep. #955 - Food Sustainability: Challenges And Strategies

Our week of social impact ventures lives on. In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway talks with Shanita McAfee-Bryant, founder and executive director of The Prospect KC. These successful founders ponder the real challenges in food sustainability. And how passion and people empowerment can make a real difference.

Covered In This Episode

How can we help promote food sustainability in our communities? Lauren and Chef Shanita have things to share about this societal issue.

Discover meaningful ways to pitch in and alleviate food insecurity in general. Learn the benefits of immersing yourself in other people’s stories so that you can expand your view of the world. And see the impact of empowering yourself and others around you.

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Listen to this Startup Hustle episode today!

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  • Shanita McAfee-Bryant’s journey (02:36)
  • On listening to your inner voice (04:52)
  • When you’re put in uncomfortable situations (07:54)
  • Why is being an introvert hard? (09:51)
  • Finding the right opportunity in entrepreneurship (15:07)
  • How Shanita got to where she is now (17:35)
  • All about The Prospect KC (18:50)
  • Teaching and empowering people to become more sustainable (21:32)
  • How The Prospect KC evolved throughout the years (25:30)
  • On supporting the passion and mission of non-profit businesses (26:32)
  • On realizing that problems are not exclusive to anyone (28:46)
  • The future of The Prospect KC (30:27)
  • The landscape of the problem that The Prospect KC is trying to solve (32:35)
  • Food insecurity is linked to crimes (35:16)
  • How to help address societal issues in your community (39:22)

Key Quotes

If there was one thing that I want people to key in on is that for the majority of my career, I’m going to say 99.5 percent of that, I have been true to myself and what I was passionate about and what I was going to do.

– Shanita McAfee-Bryant

So it means being authentic in the choices that you make, and, sometimes, just because something looks really exciting and sexy and amazing doesn’t mean that it’s the right opportunity for you.

– Lauren Conaway

I like solitude, and when you spend too much time by yourself, you start to think that these problems are exclusive to me. Around other people, you realize, oh, they’re not exclusive to me. Other people have the same issues too. So I just need to chill out.

– Shanita McAfee-Bryant

Sponsor Highlight

Again, we see overwhelming support from The Economic Development Corporation of KCMO (EDCKC). Aside from powering today’s episode of the Startup Hustle, they also lift the business community of Kansas City, Missouri, through programs, like Social Venture Studio and LaunchKC. Learn more about their programs at

Thank you to all of our podcast partners for your dedication to supporting early-stage companies!

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Lauren Conaway  00:01

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And I got to tell you, we have a very special sponsor today, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about them. The Economic Development Corp of KCMO is proud to support the dreamers and doers in our great city through a variety of programs, including LaunchKC and KC Up. If you are in or around the Kansas City area, you can learn how they can help you launch by visiting And I gotta tell you, you know, the EDCKC, they do incredible work in the Kansas City community. But they also support some incredible entrepreneurs. As a reminder, this entire week, we are shining a light on the impactful work that is happening right here in Kansas City. Thanks to the great people over at the EDCKC. Today, I actually had the pleasure to speak with one of the founders of the Keystone Innovation Group-Social Venture Studios, which is a collaboration with the EDCKC. I am super excited and super proud to introduce you all to Chef Shanita. I have followed her career for years now, watched her go from strength to strength, and do just incredible things here in Kansas City. You’re going to hear all about that. But Chef Shanita is the founder and executive director of The Prospect KC. She is an influencer and a celebrity chef. And most importantly, I think these days, she is someone who is very dedicated to reducing food insecurity to making sure that people are empowered in their lives. Like, she just does incredible stuff. So, Chef Shanita, I just want to tell you I am so glad to have you here on the show. It is about damn time. It’s good to be friends.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  01:51

You too. And I’m like, I think I want to just take you with me so that you can do your next stream everywhere. Yeah, let’s do that.


Lauren Conaway  01:58

She’s an awesome chef, and she does amazing. Let me tell you what, well, actually, let’s dig into that. Let’s find out why you are so awesome. And I’m gonna let you take the reins, Chef Shanita. And I’m going to ask you to tell us about your journey.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  02:16

My journey. So wiggly forks in the term. Haven’t figured it out. I’m doing something else.


Lauren Conaway  02:25

Your journey, you got quite a story. Like we’ve talked about your story before. You’ve got quite a story.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  02:32

I think the one thing that I want people to kind of like key in on is that for the majority of my career in Joni, and I’m going to say 99.5% of that, I have been true to myself, and what I you know what I was passionate about and what I was going to do. There was like one tiny little moment where I kind of veered off and did what everybody else thought I should do. But once I gathered myself, I quickly ended that and moved on to what worked best for me.


Lauren Conaway  03:13

So wait just a minute, I’m going to walk you back. You can’t dangle a carrot like that. And then just pull it away like nope, never mind. So talk to us about that piece of the journey. Like how did you come to be so strong and secure in yourself and what you’re doing, even in the face of adversity, and you know, maybe a little bit of that self-doubt that one time you felt self-doubt. Talk to us about that.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  03:38

So I am personality-wise, what people would call. I didn’t know this was what it was called until recently. I used to say that I was an introvert who was extroverted, but that’s an ambivert. So I didn’t know that. So I am an ambivert. And the reason why I feel that that is important is that we need a lot of solitude. And in that solitude, I get familiar with myself and my voice. So it really kind of helps be that like a guiding star because I’m not, you know, it’s hard. It’s easier for me to kind of decipher. When I’m making a decision, what’s me and what’s other people because I know me and my thoughts.


Lauren Conaway  04:24

You know yourself so well that you come from a position of knowledge.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  04:30

About me.


Lauren Conaway  04:35

I really, really, really want to talk about how you got to this place tactically because I know you’re a little famous but really awkward. I know it makes it feel awkward, but you’re famous. You’re very talented, but you’re very talented in a lot of different ways. But one specific way that I’m looking forward to is to tell us about your life.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  05:01

Unlike a lot of people, I can honestly say from the moment that I discovered great chefs when I was about 1314 years old, I realized that you could make a career out of cooking, and I didn’t know how much money you made back then, you know, if I’m talking to mentees now, I’m like, Are you guys on the Department of Labor website? Do you know what these careers make? Do you know what, you know how much it’s gonna cost you to get the education to do said career? I didn’t know any of that. I just knew that you could make money doing it. And I saw people doing it. And I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. And then, from that moment on, it was just me figuring out how that was going to happen. And of course, you know, you know that I’ve talked about this a lot. My dad was there advising and supporting me, but definitely not in the early early stages. He wasn’t overdoing it. That makes sense to me. He really just kind of, like, let me figure it out. But definitely, it was there as a safety net in the event that something was gonna arrive or it didn’t go out as I planned.


Lauren Conaway  06:11

So he was there to support you, but he also wanted to give you the autonomy and the experience to kind of find your own way.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  06:20

Yeah, and then I didn’t even realize this. We could go back even further. You know, I didn’t understand this, really, until the civil unrest that happened during the pandemic. So when I was in sixth and seventh grade, we moved from Grandview to Johnson County. And when I say we moved to Johnson County, as we moved off of 140/9 and Schweitzer, there was nothing out there but farms and cows and two-lane roads. And that took me a placement into like a whole nother world, where I spent from eighth grade, obviously, until I graduated, just really kind of learning how to navigate and deal with difficult things. Because just being the only, you know, like, in my graduating class, I am not joking with you, Lauren, this is 1997. I promise there were probably only 12 black kids. And if I thought I had enough coffee right now, I could probably think of everybody’s names. But I can’t think of him right now. Because I have not had enough caffeine.


Lauren Conaway  07:29

You kind of got taken out of, you know, a comfort zone and thrown into an environment that wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t built for you. And you weren’t surrounded by people who looked like you, maybe thought like you. Yeah, that’s even really tough.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  07:45

And you don’t add one more layer to that. I left from Christian school to public school.


Lauren Conaway  07:52

That was off the charts.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  07:56

I left school to go to public school with kids who had more money than they knew what to do with and who were doing all kinds of little shocking things from my little sheltered Christian School. So yeah.


Lauren Conaway  08:09

All right. So in some environments, you’re in this new environment, you have a supportive family who’s never if you need them. But you’re trying to forge ahead and move forward. What did you have to tell yourself? Or what did you think to yourself to keep yourself moving and to keep yourself learning?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  08:27

Well, I don’t think I had to tell myself anything. Because from eighth grade up until that point, I had been navigating difficult things. So it was just like, and I don’t want to say this to be like, oh, you know, some type of anomaly or to minimize it. But at that point, navigating difficult things had become par for the course like that was just the way that it was gonna be. I had really gotten comfortable with the fact that I was not that girl, that things just came easily to me. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. If I wanted it to happen, I was gonna have to throw that thing out. And that’s just kind of the way, you know, that just became ingrained in my personality. When things come easy. I’m almost frustrated, right? Wait, what? Okay, what’s that all about?


Lauren Conaway  09:16

You know, get that because you don’t. It’s like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like, this is too easy. Yep. Yeah, I say, Oh, man, I get that. I get that so hard.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  09:25

And the hardest part about that is being an introvert, having to deal with things that have been difficult. And that makes it hard for you to have personal relationships. Yeah. Because the things that people think are hard, you’re just like, life is hard. Get over yourself. But you can’t say that to people, right? To people, but that’s kind of how it was. It was always difficult for me. And I just kind of learned how to, you know, grit toughed it out. I just learned how to suck it out and knew that on the other side of that difficulty was exactly what I wanted and where I wanted it to be. And if it wasn’t, I wasn’t afraid to be like, Nope, I’m not doing this anymore. Like, people ask me all the time. And this is the one time where I alluded that I didn’t listen to my voice.


Lauren Conaway  10:21

Why did you close magnolias on 99th real quick she needed to do a little bit of background because I definitely want to hear this? But I also need to know what Magnolia is.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  10:30

So talk from culinary school, then I hated cooking and took a break and went and got my securities license in did securities for two years to like 2008. So I graduated, went to culinary school didn’t graduate. But that’s a JUCO story. A lot of chefs that have gone to JUCO did not graduate because none of us did our logbooks anyways. That’s because you have to get we’d have to get a whole bunch of chefs here, and we’ll all talk about why none of us have done our logbooks. But then I was like, Ah, I don’t think I want to cook anymore. And if you guys know what happened during me, too, and all of the food business, like I don’t need to get into all that, that definitely played into why I did not want to cook anymore. If you’ve ever seen The Color Purple, I definitely felt like Oprah’s character and was like, you know, all my life, I have to fight, and I’m definitely tired of fighting. So I’m done with that. Disabilities for a couple of years, the market crashed in 2008. And then I had to like reevaluate. And of course, this is also when I had my, like, quarter-life crisis where I was like, I suck. You know, I haven’t cured cancer. There’s still world hunger, you know, people so getting chronic illness and die like what have I been doing with my 28 years? I’m trash. And then my dad reminded me, well, you didn’t even go to college for that. Oh, no, why you’re still upset? How about if you do what you went to school for? Then that’s kind of when I started my catering business that grew to the first restaurant on the 29th and cherry magnolias on the 29th. Cherry, which then grew to magnolias on 99th and holmes. Which then grew to the food truck now all the way through that process. Up until we got to 99th in homes, I was very sure of myself. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how it was going to happen. And you know, all of those things. I did all the work when we got to Magnolia on homes. That move came out of fear. Because on Cherry my daughter was not was sick. So I had to take some time off to just deal with her health. This is the little one, the little youngest one.


Lauren Conaway  12:51

Videos with . . .


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  12:52

Yeah, yep. It’s the one.


Lauren Conaway  12:54

He does these really awesome videos on her social media with her and her daughter just cooking. And I love them so much. They make me sick.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  13:03

She was not well, and so it was a couple of years of just kind of dealing with her health. So then, you know what I thought was a good opportunity. But honestly, I didn’t do a lot of due diligence. I was very tired. There was just a lot going on with her health in my life. Everything’s crazy. And so then it was like, well, people, it was a time where people are like, What are you doing? What are you doing? When will you come back? What are you going to? What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? And I felt afraid that if I didn’t make a move right now, then I would become irrelevant. People would forget about me. And it would be like starting over. So I jumped into what I thought was a good opportunity, which turned out to be a disaster. I can’t even if there were a lot of contributing factors. But the main one and the only one that matters for the purposes of this podcast is that as an entrepreneur, I was not my best self. I was not my best chef in terms of creating, innovating, and coming up with menu ideas. I was not my best, you know, entrepreneur in terms of building a team and developing employees. I was not the best business owner in terms of dealing with customer relations and all of the things that you need to do to build something successful. I just was not the best at any of that. And do you run? Chef?


Lauren Conaway  14:30

Do you feel like maybe that was because it was the right opportunity? Was it just the wrong time?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  14:35

Yep. Okay, an opportunity at the wrong time. Wrong location, the wrong landlord. And it was one and I don’t ever there’s lots of things that have happened in my journey that have been difficult. And people are like, man, if you could go back and do that over, would you do it and all the times except for this? I say no, I would definitely have capital because that’s made me who I am. Yeah, that particular time. If I could go back and change it, I would have said no. I would have said no. And I would have stood on that No, and waited for the right opportunity to come along. So that’s the one time in my career, where I just did not trust my gut. I did something that I just shouldn’t have done, you know, and I think we all you know, as entrepreneurs, hopefully somebody who’s listening to this will be like, yeah, either I’m in this situation like that I just got out of that, or so this is like, oh, it’s gonna resonate a ton.


Lauren Conaway  15:37

Because I mean, the fact is, I think the takeaway for our folks listening at home is, you don’t always have to jump on every opportunity as it’s presented to you like, sometimes, you need to be in the right place, or the opportunity needs to bake some more. But one of the things that I’ve always loved about you Shanita is, you do live in your truth. Like, I’ve seen that about you. I’ve seen you get vocal at meetings, and I’ve seen you, you know, advocate for your new thing that you’re building with The Prospect KC, like all of these things that they do, they’re an extension of yourself, and you’re very authentic, in who you are. And I think that our listeners can learn from that. And so you know, being authentic in yourself also means being authentic in the choices that you make. And so sometimes just because something looks really exciting and sexy and amazing, doesn’t mean that it’s the right opportunity for you.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  16:33

Yeah. And so is just owning that thing. I own that mistake. A to Z. Yeah. All of the crazy things that happen. Like I said, there are other mitigating circumstances, I can’t even blame it on those because I shouldn’t have never been in there in the first place. Yeah, those would have even had an opportunity to present themselves as I’ve not even done it. So anyway, yeah, that’s, that’s it on that journey. It’s just, you know,


Lauren Conaway  16:58

I don’t think I ever I don’t think I ever knew you that you had regret around.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  17:03

Yeah. And so but here’s, and then I’m gonna, you know, now we’re here, we’re at the prospect, right. And people don’t understand how I got here. Well, eight, seven years before I even did this, I was introduced to the concept. But this is what I’m, that’s what I’m saying like that seven years ago was not the time for me to do this. It was a seed that was planted in my mind when I was out in Seattle. And then the time opportunity presented itself and like, five, six years later, where it was like, this is the time to do this. This is the moment for this. Had I tried to do it when I thought it was a great idea. And early 2000s 2012 2013, that would have been the wrong time for that.


Lauren Conaway  17:45

Well, you probably would have failed again, in a way. I mean, I’m actually somebody who believes in failure, like I know, with 100, you don’t even have to tell me, but I know that your experience with the physical location of Magnolia Like, it wasn’t the right time. But you learned a ton from it. Like I just know that about you. So let’s backtrack for just a second, though, and tell us what the prospect is.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  18:12

So it’s a social venture, and I know social venturing and social entrepreneurship, that whole 501 C three and making money model is really hard for people here to understand. But like I said, I was introduced to this concept, or eight years ago, so what are we looking at 2012 2013 in Seattle, and they’ve been doing it in Seattle for almost 30 years. And as we’re a part of a member network, where there’s 68, other concepts like this, where it’s beautiful, is that they coach us and support us in tailoring their programming to meet our city’s needs. So my Social Venture does not look like what’s in New Orleans does not look like what’s in Boston does not look like what’s in New York or Seattle. It’s really tailor made for Kansas City. And so when I, when I looked back on my experiences as an employer, I participated in every single workforce development program that there was, but I never left those relationships with the people that I employed for whatever their time period was, was six weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks, 14 weeks, whatever it was, I never felt like I did anything impactful to help those people reach that sustained economic mobility. So now I have this opportunity with the prospect to work on workforce development, to couple that with food access and nutritional literacy to other things that I’m very passionate about, and, and create a whole ecosystem that kind of helps support and bring people together through a lens of like health equity, right? We’re using food as a vehicle to change the landscape of a person’s life, which then changes the landscape of a community and that that To the whole, you know, if I just as the young kid said, if I dropped the mic, and I suppose that would be where I dropped it, that’s really what it is. And I think that when people look at what we do with the barrier assessment, that’s what we do. We have a barrier assessment where we’re really looking at Lauren’s barrier? What is this thing that’s keeping Lauren in this cycle? And let’s address that. We’re going to train her, we’re going to support her, but we’re also going to help Lauren address this thing, the housing, is it mental illness? Is it drug addiction? Is it domestic violence? Is it lack of childcare, whatever that thing is, let’s work on that. So that way, once I get you trained, you can get into your employment and sustain yourself and not be back at another person’s program and six months or 10 months or whatever, starting the cycle all over again. Hopefully that makes sense.


Lauren Conaway  20:56

Well, yeah, so it’s kind of like giving a man a fish model, like you, you’re not just you’re not just giving people fish to feed? No, you’re empowering them with tools and resources and support. So you’re, you’re teaching a man to fish, but I almost feel like you’re going to be it’s like you’re teaching a man to fish and to build a house and to oh, here’s the thing.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  21:21

I’m teaching a man to fish. But let me tell you where my position is.


Lauren Conaway  21:28

I’m in the water with you. Yeah.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  21:31

I’m not teaching you to fish from the shore. Like, you know, hollerin Okay, throw it out there. Did you get anything? No, I’m going to show you how to put the bait on. I’m going to show you how, you know the cast are real, I’m gonna show you how to take it off the hook, I’m gonna show you how to clean it up, I’m gonna show you how to cook it up. Instead of me just a lot of this approach with this work is very pagode. If people deal with housing, they only want to deal with housing. If people deal with mental illness, they only want to deal with mental illness. And that’s cool. But sometimes these things are not a pogo, they’re like a chair. And you have to address all of the legs so that people can be sustained. If you only work on one leg and the other three are wobbly, then it does work on that one leg. It’s not going to sustain people. It doesn’t change the landscape of the escape of a community. This and this. Lauren was my argument when we were kind of working with the plan for unhoused. Right? Yeah, it’s a mental issue. It’s not a physical thing. And so the approach is, we just need to get people housing vouchers, and we just need to get them housed. Well, then you go talk to other departments, or apartments or other neighborhood associations or code violations. And guess who are the people who are violating and their trash is not taken out and the lawn is mowed, or the apartment is torn up trash? It’s the people who are not used to the structure of living in a home, right? Because we didn’t help them understand what that responsibility looks like. And we didn’t support them through it. We said you don’t have a house here. Have a house. Yeah, pat ourselves on the back and then move on. Or we said you don’t have any food. Here’s some produce boxes. pat ourselves on the back and move on. Did we consider that maybe Lauren doesn’t have a stove? Right? Maybe Lauren doesn’t know how to cook and doesn’t have pots and pans.


Lauren Conaway  23:35

So seriously, you’re taking a holistic view of, of food, and apparently it’s really incredible. And certainly one of the reasons that you were selected to be one of the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO’s Social Venture studio, your first inaugural cohort for those of you who don’t know, the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri. They do a lot of work around workforce development and economic development. And they bring exciting projects here to Kansas City, and we just love and adore the work that they do. Just keep in mind, folks, you can learn more at Their whole tagline is let’s grow KCMO and that’s their ethos. It represents how they work with businesses, large, small, just starting out. They’re trying to attract talent to our city. And they’re trying to make Kansas City a really fantastic place to work, live and play. And we just love that about them. But talk to us a little bit about the social venture studio that you are taking part in right now because it sounds super exciting. I have to admit, I was really thrilled because all of the female founders who are involved are innovators, of course. But I got really excited when I saw you because I’ve just seen this evolution of the prospect. I mean, you and I have known each other since before the prospect was even an idea I think.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  25:01

Yes, way before I probably knew about it, but I was just in my mind, I was like, man, that’d be neat to do here.


Lauren Conaway  25:08

And that was kind of, like, I’ve watched the evolution of you as a leader and the organization that you’re building and the people that you’re helping and it’s just been really, really awesome. So, a social venture studio is set to help you with that right to help you.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  25:24

Yeah, it helps me with that. It is also kind of, you know, making the ambivert the introvert self me even more ambivert. I think that Kevin McGinnis, his goal is to turn into a full fledged extrovert able to do it. No, and if he’s listening, he’s gonna be disappointed, but it’s not happening, Gavin, alright.


Lauren Conaway  25:48

I’m gonna hop off this, and I’m gonna text him and just be like, you’re not doing it, you’re not messing with Shanita, man.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  25:54

I think and he hasn’t said it out loud. But I honestly feel like he’s trying to turn me into an extrovert. But that is the thing. It’s one of those things where they understand the social venture, and really having that mission, that that is more powerful than your profit. But they also encouraged me to do what I was doing initially, but then got told by the nonprofit world, you’re thinking about this too much like a business. So they really are kind of supporting me and helping me to lean back into that business side of it. Yeah. But that’s so much to the point where we lose the passion for the mission. But really, by having that business structure, it’s going to enhance the mission and that purpose and support us in that and so it’s been a ride for sure. A lot of classes and workshops that just kind of really caused you to take time in this is like the curse of every entrepreneur, right? I, we can’t do our jobs because we’re too busy doing our jobs.


Lauren Conaway  26:59

Right? Like, you’re always working in the business, not on it.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  27:03

That’s what I’m saying.


Lauren Conaway  27:05

You can’t do to like day to day you have to you have to handle like the militia and the operations. So when it comes time for like that visionary piece, that’s always the first thing that gets cut for me. When I don’t have time, I’m like, alright, these are the tactical things that I have to do to keep the lights on. And then over here, all of the philosophical, ethical, you know, visionary choices that I have to make as for them, as far as the direction of our, of this company of this movement, you know, it’s really difficult fight carving out time to work on the work, quote, unquote.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  27:40

Yes, but this makes you work on the work. And then there’s accountability. Yeah, working on the work because you have to do it.


Lauren Conaway  27:51

Well, and I mean, they’ve put together an incredible cohort. I mean, you know, just nonprofit leaders in impact organization leaders from all across Kansas City. They’re just doing amazing work. So I imagine getting to pick their brains is probably pretty, pretty helpful as well.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  28:07

Right? Yes. And in knowing that you’re not alone in this sometimes. Because again, I like solitude, and then when you spend too much time by yourself, you start to think like, these problems are exclusive to me. Around other people, you realize, oh, they’re not exclusive to me. Other people have the same issues too. So I just need to chill out, which is something that my therapist tells me all the time. I have these unreasonable personal expectations.


Lauren Conaway  28:38

I don’t definitely have high standards, but I’m gonna give a little bit of aside, I see your therapist.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  28:46

Remember, I said when I was 28, I had a whole meltdown. Because I just felt like I sucked because I hadn’t liked, you know, done all these grandiose things by 28. Yeah.


Lauren Conaway  28:56

Well, I’ll tell you why. You are never alone. I am always here. I’m just telling you that right now. And that too? I really do. I will, so So for folks at home y’all don’t know this, but she needed it. And I actually belong to a mastermind for impact organizations and nonprofits. And I mean, you’re you when you contribute, like I just love listening to your insights and your thoughts on things like you’re so you’re so passionate and you’re so keyed in on your purpose is one of it’s actually one of my favorite things about that whole our monthly meetings is getting to hear Chanel, she needed to share her story and share her thoughts. So what are the next steps for the prospect like what are you now that you’ve you’re in a social venture studio, what’s the next step?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  29:49

Well, the next step is getting our actual training facility opened like, right the last year we have been training at a partner organization, and so it’ll be nice Nice to be in our own space so that people can come and see what this social venture situation looks like. And so yeah, we’re hoping that that happens soon, soon and very soon.


Lauren Conaway  30:13

Yeah. Well, and you got some I correct me if I’m wrong, and I can’t remember the particulars, but I remember, we did an announcement and I got all excited because you actually brought in some significant funding, I believe, from the Kauffman Foundation.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  30:27

Um, Paul Foundation. Helpful words? Oh, yeah. Cerner and the city of Kansas City, Missouri. So there’s some people other than myself, who understand that this holistic approach is really what will make this impactful change that we’ve all been talking about. Right? Right. It’s like, okay, how can we get to a point where we’re like, we’re seeing some long term fruit from all this effort.


Lauren Conaway  31:01

Yeah. Well, and I know that Kansas City is just raring to go on that can’t wait to get into the facility. When we talk about all of these organizations, and like the Kauffman Foundation, that’s a global organization, Health Forward is extremely well known here in the Kansas City area for funding projects that speaks to public health and, but talks to us about food insecurity. Because that’s, that’s, I feel like that’s kind of your starting point. For The Prospect KC, like, I know that you’ve done a lot of, you’ve advocated for policy and things like that around food, insecurity and access. But then you’ve built that that’s kind of the foundation and then you have this pyramid of, or a funnel even of, hey, this is how we can help, you know, we’re gonna food insecurity, we’re gonna address job insecurity, we’re going to empower folks to talk to us about the landscape of the problem. The Prospect KC tries to solve like, with food for us is like $4.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  31:58

Chicken in the big box. Big Box. Bulk stores, right? Yeah, you know, good. And well, that chicken does not cost $4. Because when you try to buy one, uncooked, it’s like 1213 and $14. So how in the world are they selling me? A $4, chicken, chicken, they’re not, they’re selling you all the other stuff that’s going on in there, right, right, using the chicken to get you to come in there. So you can learn about all their other features and benefits. And it’s the same way with us, we have the food, we have the food based programs. But that’s really how you get, it’s a way to get people to come in. It’s a way to build community. It’s a way to develop relationships. And it’s a way to kind of get people to let their guards down so that you can get down to the nitty-gritty. And yes, we need access, in which we’re doing that with our small brochure that we’ll have in there. But we also need to build community. And we also need to kind of get people to let their guard down so that they can talk to each other or talk to us. It’s not going to be an easy speed. If we just like, hey, come sign up for our program, people will be able to come in there and see what it looks like and what it feels like. And then they’re also, you know, getting something that’s healthy for their body in their family. So the bonus is you also get something pretty amazing to eat, that you don’t already have readily available. And using this model, it will also help us to dispel all these myths about you can’t have, you know, nice themes in certain parts of town because people don’t spend money. That’s not true. It’s not true. And we’ve got to stop accepting that as the reason why we decide not to put nice things now should a grocery store that carries affordable and healthy food be a nice thing. No, it shouldn’t. But the way the current system is set up it is and it’s not.


Lauren Conaway  34:02

It’s a luxury when it should be a necessity.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  34:06

Yeah, people treat it like a luxury item. And when you live in certain zip codes, they’re like, oh, that it’s Oh, we’ve got to have this certain zip code of town. It’s a necessity, certain zip codes of town. It’s a luxury. So it’s got to be equitable for everybody. Right? Food is a necessity.


Lauren Conaway  34:25

Right? I wonder if IT folks who don’t see what I’m like, we actually need it to survive. This is not just a fun thing.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  34:36

And then when you post survival, when you look at there’s lots of studies that talk about crime can be linked back to food insecurity, right? Major problems can be linked back to food insecurity or to flute food nutrition, not knowing what to eat, when to eat and how these types of foods affect your body. Yeah, you know, so it’s there. There’s more to it. And there are layers too, and I think that you know, I’m hoping that what our goal is, let’s say this is to really cause people to sit down and think this thing through and have the tough, difficult conversations that they just don’t like having, which is why I do not allow people to refer to them as deserts. Because in most instances, Lauren, you, and I are not going to get off this podcast and go dig up a desert somewhere in Kansas City, Missouri. That’s just not going to happen right there. For the most part, they’re naturally occurring, or some type of ecological system thing has happened to make the setting a desert, right? When we use the word desert, when it turns to food, it makes you feel like it’s hopeless. And there’s literally nothing we can do about it. When it’s absolute, it’s that’s just the furthest thing from not only that, like, on the back, I think it’s really important to note that on the back end, there are always things that we can do about it.


Lauren Conaway  35:50

But I also, as you’re talking, I’m like, Huh, what it also kind of minimizes the work that it took to get here, like, you’re talking about things like historic systemic barriers, and, you know, redlining, and like all these things that have contributed to creating these pockets of geography that don’t have access to nutritious food, right? Holding yourself of responsibility on the front end and back end, you’re just like, what nothing we can do about it. So I actually, I never heard that she needed that.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  36:34

I like the perception of it. You just said these historical systemic themes. And so there are certain times in history, and even just Kansas City history, where they like to use black and white photos. But I know that those things have taken place in my parent’s lifetime, right? Yeah. And I have color photos of my parents’ time period. So why are we using black and white photos?


Lauren Conaway  36:59

Because we want to distance ourselves from these things that are happening by saying, Well, hey, if it happened with your photography, yeah, we haven’t so long ago. In fact, like, we’re just creating a narrative like, and honestly, like, I feel like anybody who’s in an impact organization understands that 90% of the narratives that we tell ourselves about societal issues and barriers and access, it’s bullshit. You know, you were telling us these stories, but we’re not really, we’re not telling ourselves the real story. And if we don’t tell ourselves the real story, we can’t actually fix the problem because we’re not addressing the right issues. Right.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  37:41

Yeah, that’s it. And, when we make it hopeless or seem beyond our control, there’s another little thing that we can do. We can congratulate ourselves for menial, minuscule progress. Yeah, for the bare minimum, we can be like, Oh, look what we did. We gave out a whole bunch of boxes of free food for us.


Lauren Conaway  38:06

Last year, and we’re running a little short on time, but I think that it’s a really, really important question to ask you, specifically Chef Shanita. I’m going to ask you, what can we do? You know, not our listeners, not all of our listeners are going to be starting up impact organizations that address food insecurity, we’re not all going to be putting together workforce development measures to, you know, help bridge some of these accessibility gaps and knowledge gaps. So talk to me, what can we do? Like, what can Lauren Conaway do? What can our listeners do to help address some of these issues that you’re talking about? And that’s a huge question.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  38:42

I know, but it’s an easy answer. That’s really hard. You have to check our perspective, our perspective. People make decisions and form their views on things based on their perspectives. So when Lauren is having a conversation about food access, employment issues, or house lessness, Lauren has got to check her perspective. Because Lauren is not dealing with food insecurity, she’s not dealing with Houselessness, she’s not dealing with any of those other issues. So when you get to participate in a conversation, you’re gonna have to challenge yourself to think about this from the perspective of someone who would have to deal with it. Right. From the perspective of me, who drove in from the time now, I live in the city now and drove in from the suburbs and past 1500 11 grocery stores on my way here.


Lauren Conaway  39:43

Right? You can look at what that also involves. And this is something that you and I have actually talked about, but that also involves, it’s not just seeing things from the perspective of those individuals, but it’s asking those individuals like hey, you know, having The self-awareness to realize that like, hey, maybe I’m not the best person to solve this problem. And what I need to do is I need to find people who can come up with actionable solutions which have been experiencing this. How can I support them? Right, right.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  40:15

And when you have another way is the same as when I tell you what my lived experience is. Don’t challenge me on that. Right? Because again, your responses coming from your perspective don’t challenge me and don’t challenge people who are closest to these problems about their lived experiences. You don’t know what that’s like. You know, I was a single teenage mom. You can’t tell me what that’s like. Unless you’re a single teenage mom.


Lauren Conaway  40:43

You don’t have. You can’t empathize if you haven’t experienced that yourself for sure. Yeah. Well, I gotta tell you, I knew that this was going to be a good one. I always love talking with you. I always kind of leave. I always leave feeling like I’m fired up. Why do you think that is?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  41:04

I don’t know. Maybe it’s like, I don’t know.


Lauren Conaway  41:08

But I always feel fired up when I talk to you. I hope our listeners feel fired up as well. And I do have a human question for you. Okay, actually, I am going to let what you do inform us just a little bit because I’m going to ask you, what would you want to eat for your last meal? Hmm. Food?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  41:30

Good steak.


Lauren Conaway  41:31

Okay, cooked medium rare. Rare, medium rare. That’s my girl.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  41:39

If you cook your meat. Rarely don’t we, not friends. Like.


Lauren Conaway  41:44

Like, Oh, God. Okay, so I have a friend who always eats her steaks while done, and I’m just allowed by her hamburger. A hamburger. Think about her. I’m like, No, don’t do that. That’s bad. You’re basically eating shoe leather. Why?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  42:01

That you’re making my food come out late so they can burn your steak, get you a hamburger so that the rest of us can eat our food in a timely manner.


Lauren Conaway  42:10

I feel like that’s a really good takeaway for our friends as well. Don’t you order your steaks, meat, or anything above a medium? Let’s just say that. I think I’m okay with medium, maybe?


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  42:21

Sort of. Yeah, but medium well, and well done you out if I’m with you, I will tell the server, Hey, I’m not waiting on her. Because I will eat and pay by the time your food comes.


Lauren Conaway  42:35

That is too funny. Well, I love that. And I gotta tell you, friend, I would love to take you out for a steak anytime. Let’s do that, for sure. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us here on the show. We’ve actually done this before for the innovator podcast. But it was good to check back in for sure. But I don’t even know if you remember, but years ago, before I was on Startup Hustle, we did this. And it was just as fun the second time. So, thank you.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant  43:03

Well, I appreciate you, Laura. And, you know, I do, and I’m so glad you guys had me. Hopefully, you’re not the only person who gets fired up from this.


Lauren Conaway  43:11

I hope the same. And I encourage our listeners to just get fired up. You just heard some amazing things from an amazing chef and human being and, you know, get fired up. We are also here at Startup Hustle. We’re very fired up about the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO. You see how I did that? Today’s episode of Startup Hustle was sponsored by the EDCKC. If you are in the Kansas City area, go and check it out. Find out who your business development officer is at We want you to incur; we’re encouraging you to connect with the folks out there making a big difference in our business community. As I said, they’re bringing opportunities to Kansas City. They’re putting a spotlight on Kansas City, they’re driving economic growth, they’re doing some amazing work, and they can help you. So we invite you to check them out at I also want to just give a quick shout-out to all of these social venture studio cohorts. This week, we are shining a light on the impactful work happening here in Kansas City. And we have the pleasure of speaking with Sinead Oh. She’s one of the Keystone Innovation Groups, Social Venture Studios. There are other amazing impact entrepreneurs and impact founders in this group. So definitely check them out. Friends, every week, we love it when you come back and listen to us. We love sharing the stories of entrepreneurs, and we want to keep doing that with you. So keep on coming back, and we will catch you on the flip side.