By Taryn Skees for Amplify — March 31, 2023
Anora Morton grew up poor and food insecure in the housing projects in Woodford County Kentucky. Fast forward to 2020 and while living in the West End during COVID she quickly realized it was a food desert when no grocer would deliver to her.
“It was my breaking point. No matter how many goals I accomplished, and degrees I obtained I still felt like that poor Black kid in the projects that could not access fresh food,” says Morton. “With the same determination I applied to shatter all the glass ceilings beneath me, I am now applying to eradicate food deserts.”
The idea for her startup, The Nori Project, came to her while she studied Japanese law in Tokyo for a week when in law school. That is where she discovered the existence of a type of food vending machine with advanced capabilities. Although it was her life long dream to be an attorney, she ended up switching gears after failing the bar exam twice. “I took that as my sign from the universe to pivot into the entrepreneurial scene.” Thus, The Nori Project was born (a nod to the country that inspired her idea – Nori is her favorite Japanese cuisine Onigiri that is a rice ball wrapped in seaweed.)
The ultramodern stand alone machines Anora wants to see on sidewalks throughout the city of Louisville, KY will be focused on providing healthy food – fresh produce, healthy snack and drink alternatives and hot meals. Morton says, “I will not stop until I have eradicated all of America’s food deserts. Healthy food is a basic human right.”
Though she doesn’t practice law anymore, justice and equality are core tenets of her ethos. She is driven to succeed by her personal experiences and vows not to stop “until all of the kids in the projects, trailer parks, rural Appalachia and the like have easy access to fresh, healthy food so they can dream about their futures instead of where their next meal is coming from.”
As for advice to other entrepreneurs? Morton says: “When you feel like you’re not good enough for something, I beg you to question whether that something is good enough for you. Failure is proof that better is on the way. Don’t fear failure.”
Anora Morton is a 28 year old Woodford County native. She grew up poor and food insecure in the housing projects in Versailles. She is a first generation college graduate and obtained her bachelors degree in criminal justice and associates in paralegal studies from UofL from 2013- 2017. After she took a gap year, she attended UofL Brandeis School of Law from 2018-2021. More about her professional journey can be found here. Learn more about The Nori Project: www.thenoriproject.com