Solana Beach’s Earnest Eats earnestly gives back to the community

Earnest Eats is not only known for its good food, the local company is known for earnestly giving back and doing good in the world.

For nearly a decade, the Solana Beach-based health food company has partnered with the International Rescue Committee, helping the nonprofit organization respond to the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

“The International Rescue Committee’s mission really mirrors our own, which is helping people attain a better life, whether it be through great foods that have great nutrition or whether it be giving back through financial means and direct consulting means to organizations like the IRC,” said Mark Mandel, co-founder and vice president of sales for Earnest Eats.

The American branch of the European-based International Relief Association was founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein to aid people suffering under Nazi Germany. In 1940, the Emergency Rescue Committee formed to assist European refugees trapped in Vichy France. The IRA and ERC joined forces two years later under the name International Relief and Rescue Committee, later shortening its name to the International Rescue Committee.

Today, the IRC provides health care, infrastructure, education and economic support to people in more than 40 countries, with special programs designed for women and children. The nonprofit resettles thousands of refugees each year in 26 U.S. cities.

“The IRC helps refugees of war, famine and natural disaster have a path to a better life,” said Mandel, who first got involved with the IRC 20 years ago.

Mandel has been a longtime supporter of the IRC, contributing both money and time to the organization. When he and Andrew Aussie co-founded Earnest Eats in 2006, the duo decided to earnestly give back to the community through the new company and partnered with the IRC.

“We had a vision of starting our own natural foods brand that would really take it to the next level of where the natural foods industry was, in terms of ingredient profiles and taste profiles,” Mandel said. “But also, we wanted to do something that we thought had a higher purpose and could give back to the community.”

Earnest Eats donates products to the IRC’s Backpack Campaign in San Diego. Every summer the program gives backpacks filled with school supplies to refugee children entering an American school for the first time.

Earnest Eats has also worked directly with refugees through the IRC’s New Roots program, community farms across the country where refugee farmers reconnect with the land and grow fresh fruits and vegetables for their families and neighbors. The company sponsors the New Roots farm in City Heights.

“It’s an amazing thing they’re doing to help people become self-sufficient,” Mandel said. “It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”

Earnest Eats also contributes 5 cents from every sale, up to $20,000 annually, to the IRC. The IRC’s logo and information about the nonprofit can be found on all of the company’s packaging.

“We proudly display our partnership,” Mandel said.

Aussie, co-founder and president of Earnest Eats, described the company’s philosophy as “good in, good out, good vibes.”

“The good in is the superfood nutrition for you, the good out is our conscious causes, and if you do all that, you get out in the world and you get some good vibes back,” Aussie said.

Aussie and Mandel met in the early 1990s at then-La Jolla-based Kashi Company, where Aussie served as senior vice president of marketing. Mandel previously worked in sales at both Kashi and Hain-Celestial Group.

Earnest Eats started out of Aussie’s Del Mar home and soon expanded to Cedros Design District in Solana Beach. Located at 444 South Cedros Avenue, Suite 175, today the company offers a variety of organic and vegan products including energy bars, granola bars and planks, and hot cereals.

Earnest Eats products can be found nationally in select retailers, including Albertsons, Ralphs, Target, Caribou Coffee, Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods, among a variety of other chains across the country.

But Solana Beach is home.

“We love being here in Solana Beach because it’s a hub of activity with a lot of startup companies, and of course, there’s a sensibility to health and wellbeing, which fits in perfectly with the concept we have,” Mandel said.

“It helps inspire a lot of the things that we do,” Aussie added.

For more about Earnest Eats, visit

For more about the International Rescue Committee, visit