Riverdale student fighting food insecurity with healthy energy bars

Riverdale High School senior Will Moller, who created Bronx Energy Bars.
Photo courtesy Will Moller

With 37% of families in the South Bronx food insecure and 99% of them qualifying for free or reduced lunches, one local high school student is doing his part to address the problem.

To increase access to healthy foods while also promoting a nutritious diet, Riverdale High School senior Will Moller decided to create an energy bar and donate the proceeds to LIFT Communities in the Bronx, which is a nonprofit that supports families of color in low-income neighborhoods.

Moller, 17, of Manhattan, who is the founder of Bronx Energy Bars, developed two healthy, all-natural nut and oat energy bar recipes and found a licensed commercial kitchen to produce them. According to Moller, he has always had the entrepreneurial spirit, but over the past few years of driving through the South Bronx to school and seeing people struggle to access food during the pandemic, he felt compelled to help.

“It’s giving hard working people the means to improve their diet,” Moller told the Bronx Times. “Food is the most fundamental thing people need.”

According to Moller, he was never a fan of energy bars when he tried them in the past, they always tasted too much like candy, were loaded with sugars or extremely bland. But while being shuttered home during the pandemic, Moller decided he would attempt to create his own energy bars with healthy natural ingredients. It was trial and error at first, but eventually he settled on two flavors: peanut butter banana and cranberry orange oat bars. He buys the ingredients — organic quinoa puffs, pea protein crisps, brown rice crisps, banana chips, agave syrup to name a few — and sends them to an FDA-licensed commercial kitchen; his labels say 100% for charity.

The fast-acting carbohydrates like the agave and brown rice syrup provide a boost of energy while the longer-lasting carbohydrates from ingredients high in fiber like rolled oats and quinoa sustain energy levels and lower insulin response.

“I was looking to make tasty, delicious energy bars with natural ingredients that don’t taste like candy,” he said.

In January, he officially launched his company and now Bronx Energy Bars are available in 11 stores throughout Manhattan, on his website and also sold in Riverdale High School. He began selling the bars in August and so far, has donated $300. Additionally, Moller raised more than $3,000 for LIFT through a fundraiser.

His goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of 2022. “I’m trying to get in as many stores as possible,” he said.

The teen is quite ambitious and didn’t stop with the energy bars.

He realized the majority of food insecure neighborhoods, have gas stations and bodegas that sell ultra-processed, highly refined snack foods that greatly outnumber grocery stores that sell fresh items. Therefore, simply raising money doesn’t solve the systemic issues in underserved communities.

So, he created a nutrition education e-book where he delivers lessons to help food insecure families and does videos, blog posts, Twitter posts and more to raise awareness about food insecurity. He hopes to do this long-term and eventually expand to stores in the Bronx.

“I’m really proud of how everything has turned out,” Moller said. “Everything I’ve created is a reflection of me.”

Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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