Based in Quechee, Vermont, Afya Brands International, Inc. d/b/a Global Village Foods (GVF) is a specialty food manufacturer of clean-label, allergy-friendly, ready-to-eat meals, bulk entrees and snacks for institutional food service, grocery prepared foods and frozen retail grocery.
GVF launched in 2016 but the company’s roots go back to 1991 when Melvin Hall met his now wife Damaris in Kenya while on an academic abroad study and eventually settled and started a family in the Upper Valley area. They both wanted the independence and flexibility of running their own business and experimented with various venues, eventually starting a 72-seat full service restaurant centered on highlighting the best of Authentic African & World Cuisine. Having a child during this time who was found to be allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and seafoods, Damaris used her training as a chef to develop menus for both home and business, committed to simple clean ingredients with a plant-based emphasis that were also allergy-friendly. It turned out that evolving US consumer trends were headed in the same direction.
The company has achieved distribution across New England and is starting to expand further south. In order to meet rising demand for their products, the company moved into a new facility in White River Junction in August 2021 providing the company much needed capacity for growth. In 2022, the Flex Fund, along with participant Fair Food Fund, provided $500,000 in permanent working capital for new hires, sales/marketing, and fit up to new facility.
Global Village Foods is a BIPOC and woman-owned and operated Company. The company is entirely owned by the Hall family and this team brings to the table the lived experience of the need for diversity in all aspects of hiring, training, mentoring, and promoting. Moreover, the founders, having lived in Vermont for over 30 years, recognize the inherent lack of racial diversity in the state’s population and therefore seek opportunities when available to identify and recruit racially diverse talent from the local high school Career & Technical training programs, immigrant communities, and persons relocating from other areas.