ROGERS, Ark. — As thousands of exhibitors and attendees convened in Northwest Arkansas last week for FreightWaves’ first in-person event in over two years — The Future of Supply Chain — many were introduced to Coleman Warren, who served up an engaging personality and a terrific scoop of ice cream.
He did so with the purest of intentions – to fight food insecurity.
Warren, 22, of Farmington, Arkansas, is the founder of Simple+Sweet Creamery, a mobile ice cream business. He graduated with dual degrees in industrial engineering and political science from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville last week. He is one of 32 Rhodes scholarship winners in the U.S., and he’s the first from the state’s largest university since 2000.
Warren’s fiancée, Bailee King, 22, also from Farmington, serves as the creative director of Simple+Sweet. The couple got the idea of opening a mobile ice cream business after both served in AmeriCorps VISTA in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2019.
“While in Omaha, Bailee and I fed about 600 kids a day through a lunch summer meal program,” Warren told FreightWaves. “Although Nebraska was not listed as one of the most food-insecure states in the U.S., Arkansas was, so we started researching ways we could help.”
The summer volunteering for AmeriCorps VISTA and tasting high-quality ice cream inspired him and King to develop their own creamery in Northwest Arkansas, using locally sourced goods, with most of the profits going to fight hunger.
“For every pint of ice cream purchased from Simple+Sweet, more than 50% of the profits are donated to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank,” Warren said.
According to Patrick Blute, director of brand and sustainability at Transfix, a New York-based FreightTech company, the catering fees at the FreightWaves event allowed Simple+Sweet Creamery to feed more than 5,000 families in Northwest Arkansas.
Blute says he reached out to Warren and King about having their mobile ice cream business at the FreightWaves event after watching T.J. Holmes’ segment on “Good Morning America” that featured Warren in April.
Holmes, a 1999 graduate from the University of Arkansas, returned to his alma mater as an anchor for GMA’s “Rise and Shine” series, announcing that Aldi was donating 20,000 pounds of food to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, as well as $5,000 to the creamery to fight child hunger, in recognition of Warren’s philanthropic work.
“When we knew we were coming to Northwest Arkansas for the FreightWaves event, we wanted to partner with their local superhero, Coleman Warren,” Blute told FreightWaves. “This is the heart and soul of why we all do what we do in terms of logistics.”
At the FreightWaves event, the Transfix marketing team renamed Simple+Sweet’s core flavors to reflect the freight event’s theme, including Vanilla (Billy) Beane, in honor of the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Oakland A’s. He was a keynote speaker at the FOSC event.
Jacob Arnold, major gifts officer for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, told FreightWaves that Warren and Simple+Sweet are setting out to change the world as well as bring awareness to food insecurity issues in his home state.
“Coleman is a one-of-a-kind,” Arnold said.
Warren said food insecurity’s effects often fly under the radar.
“I think a lot of people say, ‘Well, if these kids just really focus on their education, they’ll go to college and get a good job.’ But how are you supposed to even dream about who you could be if you don’t know where dinner’s coming from?”
As of publication, Warren’s Simple+Sweet Creamery has provided more than 15,000 meals to help fight child hunger.
Warren and King plan to marry on June 5. A week after the wedding, the couple will head to Washington, where Warren will participate in the Truman Foundation’s Summer Institute program, then the couple is off to Oxford, England, where Warren will begin his studies in October. He is pursuing a master’s degree in comparative social policy at The University of Oxford.
Warren said King, who was a Fulbright semifinalist, plans to find a job working for a neuroscience research company or for an art therapy company as she has her degree from the University of Arkansas in psychology and studio art.
Both are committed to combating child hunger.
“What Bailee and I realized is that it’s utterly ridiculous that people don’t realize how many families and children that there are here, right next door to their schools or right down the street, who are hungry,” Warren said.
“A core pillar of Transfix’s sustainability platform is to make a meaningful impact in the communities we serve and participate in,” Blute said. “His drive aligns perfectly with our goal to be purpose driven. I’m so grateful to Coleman, Jacob and the team at Freightwaves for partnering to make this possible. Simple, sweet and serendipitous.”
Arnold said his organization, the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, distributed 14 million pounds of food and provided 11.3 million meals for a four-county region in the state in 2021.
His organization works with more than 120 partner agencies to help feed the 80,000-plus food-insecure neighbors in the region.
“I met Coleman last year after seeing an article on his academic achievements, but he’s been contributing to the food bank since he started his company in 2020,” Arnold told FreightWaves.
Prior to the couple’s service in AmeriCorps VISTA, Warren said he and King had no experience making ice cream.
That all changed after the couple met Neil McWilliams, owner of the Spring Dipper of Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, who is also the former president of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. Warren said he and King were invited back for a 12-hour tutorial about how to make ice cream based on the couple’s initial meeting with McWilliams.
“After we told him [McWilliams] about our plan and what we wanted to use the money for, he invited us back to learn how to make ice cream,” Warren said. “It still took us some workshopping when we got home, but yeah, Neal McWilliams taught us everything we know about making ice cream for sure, and for a good cause.”
Arnold said that every dollar donated to the NWAFB, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides up to eight meals for those in need in the four-county region the food bank serves.
As the couple heads off to Oxford, England, Warren said he’s looking for a majority shareholder to head Simple+Sweet while he and King are overseas.
“I want someone who is dedicated to donating some of the profits to fight hunger. It’s important to me,” Warren said. “It’s hard to say goodbye to my baby, and I want to make sure the person who takes it over is committed to fighting food insecurity.”
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