I’ve been asked multiple times why my business, which is not veteran-owned or affiliated, supports multiple active duty and veteran-focused nonprofits. What ties us so strongly to this kind of support? The answer is so simple — without the work and sacrifice of so many others who have stepped forward to serve our country, I wouldn’t be able to serve you food. I am able to do what I do every day because brave men and women have chosen to serve our country. For me, the question is not ‘why’ Gastro Gnome Meals supports veterans, it’s a question of ‘how?’
I firmly believe and have seen from my own experience that the wilderness provides a path to healing and peace, but that didn’t come easily. My life as a fine-dining chef between New York City and San Francisco didn’t afford me a lot of downtime, and, definitely not in nature. Fueled by stress and intense pressure to perform, I finally reached a breaking point where my physical and mental health refused to let me continue down that path. I started my first business, launching other folks’ restaurant dreams into fruition, giving myself month-long stints between restaurant openings to wind down and get deep into the wilderness. The time spent recouping in the woods is where Gastro Gnome was born. As I ventured further into the backcountry, I needed a way to feed myself with real, nutritious, and thoughtfully prepared food, but unfortunately, it didn’t exist. So my options were to keep my trips down to just a night or two or make my own packable food so I could go deeper. Fast forward a couple of years (three, to be exact) and Gastro Gnome sold its first freeze-dried meal, meant to keep you satiated and thoughtfully nourished, wherever you end up. Settling for limited experiences or false-food weren’t options for me. Fueling adventures so that people could experience the beauty and peace of the backcountry and feel good was an option.
Now, if a little bit of that can be gifted to someone who has earned it for all of us, I want to be an active agent in making sure it happens. Warriors & Quiet Waters carries that opportunity to their participants in a way that can create a lifelong impact. I feel grateful to fuel their time in the outdoors as they discover what so many of us have found and love out there — healing, a quiet mind, and inspiration.
This blog was written by Shannon Waters, the owner and founder of Gastro Gnome Meals. Her company is a supporter of our programs, providing meals for Warriors.