PenFed Foundation Honors First Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program Recipient: Abe Kamarck, Former US Naval Aviator and Founder/CEO of True Made Foods, at Army Navy Tailgate Event
TYSONS, Va., November 30, 2018 — The PenFed Foundation honored its first Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) recipient, Abe Kamarck, a former U.S. Naval Aviator and Founder/CEO of True Made Foods, at a healthy tailgate event. The investment will help Kamarck fund a new sales team, increase product production and expand into food services. Through VEIP, PenFed is also providing Kamarck access to a network of business leaders to help grow the company and recently introduced the product to over a million PenFed members.
PenFed Foundation’s VEIP helps Veteran-owned businesses succeed by providing the seed money to get started and a support network of over 1,700 business partners.
Kamarck, a father of four, worked to solve problems across the globe as a former U.S. Naval Aviator and was inspired to solve a problem at his dinner table when he realized his kids were consuming massive amounts of sugar by topping their foods with condiments such as ketchup and barbeque sauce. In 2015, he created True Made Foods that uses real vegetables in its recipes – turning these once empty calorie foods into nutrient-dense super foods..
“We selected Abe Kamarck and True Made Foods for the PenFed Foundation’s first investment in a Veteran-owned start-up because we believe in his mission and his product,” said James Schenck, President and CEO, PenFed Credit Union and CEO, PenFed Foundation. “Through his healthy food products, Abe is helping to attack a serious health issue: obesity among our youth. One in three young people cannot join the military today because they are obese. With its emphasis on healthy foods without sugar, True Made Foods helps make the healthy choice an easy choice for Americans.”
The PenFed Foundation started VEIP to help Veteran entrepreneurs overcome their biggest challenge: capital and a network of support.
“Each year, 250,000 Veterans transition from the military and one in five of them start their own business. These businesses successfully provide critical services and fill critical needs every day. Veterans like Abe already possess a critical skill for successful entrepreneurship: grit. Through their military training, tested leadership and varied professional skillsets, Veterans are often uniquely suited to industries outside the military,” said Schenck.
“PenFed is helping me grow my company in ways I couldn’t do on my own – the support is invaluable,” said Kamarck. “The most important thing in starting a business is having an industry and investment network. Veterans have often spent years overseas serving our country, and that creates a gap of not having the same experiences or network as our entrepreneur peers. PenFed is closing that gap through VEIP.”
The healthy tailgate featured whole-hog chopped pork made by Veteran/Pitmaster Ed Mitchell using True Made Foods BBQ sauce that is naturally sweetened with butternut squash, carrots and spinach. The event took place on November 29th outside of PenFed Credit Union’s headquarters in Tysons, Virginia and was celebrated in the All-American spirit of the Army Navy rivalry.
True Made Foods is already seeing remarkable success, selling its products in over 1,400 stores across the country, including major grocery chains like Safeway, Wegmans and ShopRite.
General John Nicholson, who commanded U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support Mission from March 2016 to September 2018, and Admiral Thomas Lynch, a former Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, spoke about the realities, opportunities and challenges in transitioning from the military.
“Abe, I want to pass on my congratulations to you,” said General Nicholson during his remarks at the PenFed Foundation event. “Abe personifies a lot of the qualities that we see every day in those on active duty and our Veterans. Initiative, drive, energy, creativity, great sense of humor, but throughout all of that someone who’s really going to be successful. I think that’s exactly what we have in our military today and it’s exactly what we have in our Veterans. Investing in a Veteran is always going to be a great investment.”
General Nicholson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Admiral Lynch is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Admiral Lynch played football in college and was the Captain of the 1963 team. General Nicholson brought the Game Ball from last year’s Army victory over Navy which was sent to him in Afghanistan.
“PenFed is a quality organization. We’ve worked with them throughout the years. PenFed does everything with class and puts military and Veterans front and center. The Foundation is icing on the cake,” said Admiral Lynch during his remarks at the PenFed Foundation event.
Virginia Governor’s office Assistant Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Leslie J. Frazier also participated in the event and spoke about the importance of investing in Virginia’s Veteran entrepreneurs.
“I have to thank Mr. Schenck, PenFed, and the PenFed Foundation for all that they do to support our Veterans, servicemembers and their families,” said Frazier during her remarks at the PenFed Foundation event. “Veterans obtain so many leadership skills from the service. Many, like Abe Kamarck, are a natural fit to start their own business. As new technologies emerge and new challenges arise, we need businesses to jump right in and tackle the problems, and that’s exactly what Abe has done with True Made Foods.”
Over 500 members of the military community, PenFed employees and friends of PenFed sported Army and Navy colors and enjoyed the healthy tailgate featuring food served with True Made Foods sauces, games and prizes. Each guest received a bottle of True Made Foods sauce to take home.
Video footage (b-roll) and spokesperson interviews can be found here.
Since the PenFed Foundation announced the program in April, it has raised more than $1.4 million from businesses who want to support Veteran entrepreneurs. To learn more about the PenFed Foundation and the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP), please visit the PenFed Foundation's website.
About PenFed Foundation
Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, credit-building, home ownership, and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. To learn more, visit www.penfedfoundation.org.