In a perfect Whole Foods world, everyone would snack on kale chips, cashews and rice cakes. But nutritious delights can be tough on grocery budgets, as Gunnar Lovelace knows from experience. “I grew up poor with a single mom, a Latina immigrant,” he says. "Seeing how hard she worked to make healthy choices left a burning impression on me."

In 2014, Lovelace cofounded Thrive Market, an online food store that delivers good-for-you goods at discount prices. Its philosophy: Buying directly from hundreds of wholesome brands means avoiding distributor fees and retail markups. So apple cider vinegar sells for $2.55 instead of $4.49, and a jar of tomato sauce costs $6.95 rather than $9.79. Members spend $59.95 annually to access the site. And for every paid membership, Thrive donates another to a family in need or to a teacher, student, or veteran struggling to make ends meet.

Photo: Courtesy of Thrive Market

To date, the company, which Lovelace runs with co-CEO Nick Green, has given away more than 400,000 memberships. One went to Melissa Rodriguez, a single mother in California with two daughters. "My youngest has Down syndrome, and I don’t work full-time," says Rodriguez, who orders staples like beans, grains, and canned tuna from Thrive. "My dream is to become a yoga teacher. Paying for those classes might not be in my budget right now, but I can afford the same foods personal trainers would buy, which helps my family commit to healthy eating." Rodriguez's success is Thrive's success, says Lovelace. "No matter who they are, everyone wants to feel good in their body."

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