Spotlight on small business: Sandy’s Soul Foods

Coffs Coast foodie, author and wellness coach, Sandy Luhrs, is on a mission to educate people about the importance of good nutrition and healthy meal ideas.

And the Urunga local is turning that dream into a reality with the creation of her business, Sandy’s Soul Foods, where she mentors clients, runs nutrition and cooking classes and provides cooking support to clients on the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS).

“I have been working in the field of natural therapies for more than 20 years, and I am very passionate about sharing my love of healthy recipes and nutrition education,” Ms Luhrs said.

“I’ve got a strong food and nutrition background for my business, but I recently tapped into additional business support through the Self-Employment Assistance program to equip me with as many skills as possible to make my business venture a success.”

The Self-Employment Assistance program is part of the Australian Government’s Workforce Australia initiative. Delivered by not-for-profit employment, training and apprenticeships provider VERTO on the NSW Mid-North Coast, the nine-month program has provided Ms Luhrs with regular mentoring and support in business and entrepreneurship.

“The program has helped me focus on areas of the business that I do well, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. I’ve been able to fine tune those offerings and learn more about marketing my business to a broader audience,” she said.

“I’ve also tapped into some exciting opportunities that have presented themselves through the program.”

In July, Ms Luhrs ran nutrition and cooking workshops for Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services, a local community-based refuge in Coffs Harbour. The course was targeted at educating young women about creating health meals for themselves and their families.

Another project Ms Luhrs is undertaking is providing private cooking classes for recipients of the NDIS scheme. This allows one-on-one education to clients in their homes, who need skills in cooking nourishing food, life skills and food preparation skills.

Now with the skills and advice the Self-Employment Assistance program taught her under her belt, she feels more confident to drive her business dream forward.

“You can have all the passion in the world but it’s important to underpin that passion with important business skills, so your business can expand and evolve,” Ms Luhrs said.

To mark Small Business Month (1-31 October), VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell is encouraging those considering starting a business or wanting help transitioning an existing small business into a thriving one to contact VERTO.

“We’re really proud to deliver the Self-Employment Assistance program in the Hunter, Mid-North Coast, Murray Riverina and Far West Orana regions,” he said.

“The program allows you to choose the level of support that meets your needs and those of your small business, from training workshops to specialist mentoring.

“Sandy is the perfect example of how, with a little support and guidance, you can turn your passion into a successful small business,” Mr Maxwell said.

For more information about the Self-Employment Assistance program, contact VERTO on 1300 483 786 or visit:

Ms Luhrs has a self-published cookbook, Sandy’s Soul Foods, which is available to purchase on her website: She can also be found on Instagram @sandys_soulfoods and Facebook


VERTO is a not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in more than 65 locations across New South Wales. For more information, visit