1. Summarize your organization in one sentence.
We believe that no food should go to waste and that no person should go hungry. That’s why we source, hand pack, and securely deliver delicious boxes of recovered produce on a weekly and bi-weekly basis. For every delivery, we subsidize 2 lbs of produce for families living in food deserts through our produce in SNAP sites.
2. How long have you been running your organization?
We founded Hungry Harvest in 2014 on the University of Maryland campus.
3. Why did you decide to start the organization?
I’ve always believed that through social entrepreneurship, we can exact swift systemic change to some of the biggest problems our world faces with regard to food justice. I started this company with the belief that food is a right, not a privilege, and work daily to increase access to fresh produce to those in need.
4. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
This year we surpassed 3 million pounds of food recovered and 500k pounds more donated. You can’t put a price, or a TV show appearance, or an award on the look on people’s faces when you hand them a full box of fresh produce and know that on that day, they will not be hungry because of your team’s work.
5. How do you measure success?
Every few months we anonymously survey our team to take a pulse on happiness in the work they are doing and belief that we are authentically serving the company mission. My team is at a 9.2 overall satisfaction rating, which grew .02 from the last poll; we’ve never been under 9. Our customer ratings are in the 9’s as well, and our number one growth metric is in friend referrals: people get our product, love it, believe in us, and want to share it with their community. That’s authentic success. That’s how I know we’re doing the right thing.
6. What have you learned in the process?
To be flexible and listen. Our direction is always toward ending food deserts and bringing about food justice for all. It’s the way we listen to customer and team feedback to make better choices every day that keeps us moving forward.
7. What advice would you give to someone trying to get involved in food recovery?
Do it. The systemic issues in the food industry are vast and complicated. It’s going to take a myriad of solutions to truly fix the problem of food waste, hunger, fair compensation for farmers, and more efficient logistics from farm to fork. We are one solution, but I look forward to more people joining this cause and bringing new ideas and technologies to fill in the gaps toward a more whole solution.
8. What’s next?
Expansion & wholesale. We are launching our Miami office shortly, with plans to add 3 more cities by year’s end on the East Coast. Through our wholesale channels, we are able to rescue and serve more broadly across the states to help connect food to consumption.
9. Anything else you want to add?
We are indebted to our subscribers, and to our partners. None of this would be possible without a community of people who truly believe in food justice, and help us each day to better our product, and our service. Thank you doesn’t begin to cover the appreciation the team and I feel for your support.
10. Fun question: What was the best meal you ate this week?
Oh man, that’s a tough call! We are always sampling new produce and recipes posted by our recipe club, so many good things to choose – this week in particular I’d have to say the Asian Pear, Arugula & Feta pizza one of our ambassadors made up. There are few things better than a fresh made pizza on a beautiful sunny day.
Evan Lutz, CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest