Whether it’s salty or sweet, food is an integral part of societies around the globe. In the United States, different dishes can serve as a reflection of our cultural diversity. So, in a nod to our myriad munching options, this edition of our crowdfunding column is all about female entrepreneurs who are hoping to feed — and enlighten — the masses.

Check out these five crowdfunding campaigns from women-led businesses below:

1. Bringing a Vegan Alternative to Your Next BBQ (via Kickstarter)

The Business: Marina Benedetto is the woman behind Brooklyn-based Yeah Dawg, a pop-up hot dog cart selling a soy, gluten-free alternative to the traditional grill time favorite. For this entrepreneur, vegan hot dogs are more than just a business hook — her business is driven by the belief that “human beings can be healed by food, and no animals should ever be harmed.”
The Money: Benedetto is hoping to raise $25,000 by Feb. 28. If she succeeds, the money will be used to help Yeah Dawg find a brick-and-mortar home, as well as to fund the formation of a wholesale operation.

2. Revamping a Farm-to-Table Take on a Dessert Classic (via Plum Alley)

The Business: The Penny Lick Ice Cream Company, run by Ellen Sledge, is hoping to introduce its farm-to-table custard ice creams to shoppers throughout the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut). There’s nothing vanilla about her operation — with flavors such as Ethiopian macchiato, blackberry mint and “drunken pumpkin” (which is made with beer), Penny Lick Ice Cream Company caters to the more adventurous sweet tooth.
The Money: If her $30,000 goal is reached by March 5, Sledge will use the funds to widen her distribution efforts, revamp the product’s packaging and purchase a new delivery truck.

3. Educating Others on a Beloved Food (via Indiegogo

Credit: Snufkin7, Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Snufkin7, Wikimedia Commons

The Business: Grace Mooney — also known as the Wandering Cheesemonger — is hoping to establish an online education resource focused entirely on cheese. The Madison, Wisconsin, native has spent her life learning about and working with different types of cheeses in locations near and far. Now, she wants to share what she finds with others through her blog.
The Money: Mooney is hoping to raise $10,000 by April 4, which would be used to fund an educational trip to France. Further down the road, she hopes to open her own cheese shop.

4. An Unexpected Key Ingredient for Cookies (via Kickstarter)

The Business: Most folks don’t think of adding peas to their cookie dough recipes. Then again, most folks aren’t Larissa Russell, Fiona Lee and Tan Ying Quan of Green Pea Cookie. These co-founders brought a recipe from Singapore to San Francisco and turned it into a unique dessert that’s also vegan and gluten-free. Now, they’re looking to bring the experience to hungry fans the world over.
The Money: The business partners have already satisfied their initial fundraising goal of $5,000, and are now trying to realize their initial aspirations on a larger scale. With the money they have raised, Green Pea Cookie will be able to develop its online operation. The additional funds will also allow the company to try out new recipes and take part in social initiatives, among other endeavors.

5. “Chocolate You Can Eat Everyday” (via Indiegogo

The Business: Chicago-based business Renee’s Raw Chocolate (founded by Renee Faur) is churning out confections specifically for those who maintain a diet of raw foods. Faur was inspired to go organic after struggling with fatigue, depression and other ailments throughout much of her life. “It is our belief that we can inspire people to make healthy choices by providing them with a new kind of chocolate,” she says in her campaign.
The Money: Faur is trying to raise $120,000 by April 11. If she succeeds, the money will allow her to rent out a commercial kitchen space and purchase additional raw materials for making and distributing her chocolate.

[box_light] Want to be featured in The Story Exchange’s Crowdfunding column? Drop us a line and tell us about your campaign at [email protected] [/box_light]