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NBA star Chris Paul has set out on a mission to help eradicate socioeconomic factors standing in the way of accessibility to nutritious food. The North Carolina native is teaming up with the plant-based beverage company Koia to ensure healthy options are present in underserved communities.

Founded in 2013 by entrepreneurs Dustin Baker and Maya French, the company produces an array of vegan beverages that cater to different dietary restrictions and nutritional needs. The inspiration behind the brand was derived from discovering there was a lack of nutritious options while navigating their own personal health journeys. Koia’s mission is rooted in making plant-based nutrition convenient and accessible. As part of the investment and partnership, Paul will join forces with the company to bring Koia vending machines to HBCU campuses in 2022. He will also purchase 50,000 bottles of Koia’s best-selling flavor to distribute amongst GoPuff customers.

For Paul, who has transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, Koia’s core values are in alignment with his personal mission to ensure that those in underserved communities have the resources to lead healthy lifestyles. “My hope for investing in Koia and other changemakers in the industry is that we work together toward a bigger systemic culture shift where underserved communities have access and opportunity to live better, healthier lives,” Paul said in a statement. Chris Hunter, Co-founder and CEO of Koia, says the company is “aligned with Paul around a vision of the future where everyone has access to healthy food and look forward to working together to make that a reality.”

There has been a concerted effort to ensure historically Black colleges and universities have access to plant-based food and drink options. News about Paul’s partnership comes after Benedict College became one of the first colleges in the country to join the Forward Food Pledge. The pledge is designed to increase on-campus plant-based menu offerings through 2024.

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