Ending Food Waste One Box at a Time
Dec 30, 2018 08:31PM
By Matt Preston
Taking the positive from the negative may not always be the easiest path, but Vanessa Paige with Hungry Harvest proves it to be the most fulfilling. As the Philadelphia Market Manager, Paige uses her past experiences to help people gain food security and help the environment.
“I was a Hungry Harvest customer,” Paige begins. “I was told by my now co-worker about the company’s expansion in Philadelphia… I was also thinking when I was transitioning jobs, what am I already an evangelist for? And so I wanted the next thing to be something I was deeply passionate about.”
It’s not difficult at all in being supportive of a company that seeks to not only help the less fortunate, but to stop the waste of literally millions of pounds of food. With 20 percent of families in the U.S. lacking access to basic produce, they are able to rescue this food and provide it to people at very little cost. There is also an environmental benefit to their mission as they seek to avoid unnecessary food waste as well.
What Hungry Harvest does is also unique in that they are able to provide a necessary and vital service to the community and have had a national platform that helped them from the start. “Our CEO, Evan, had started the company when he graduated college and we’ve been going strong for the last four years… We were on Shark Tankin 2016 and the company really took off from there,” she explains.
This is naturally a big part of what inspires Paige to do what she does everyday. “I would say that because I have a background in working with different food pantries, and having been food insecure at one point in my life, these were things that drew me to Hungry Harvest… So to be a part of a company that is doing work on a daily basis to try and lessen our carbon footprint to some degree is amazing. And ending food waste has an immense impact on the environment, and these are things I’m passionate about.”
It also helps to be a foodie Paige says, as Hungry Harvest doesn’t just provide a bland box of foodstuffs, but also an array of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables. In rescuing this food, which is discarded for reasons that include being off color, not aesthetic, overproduced or even not the right size, it’s a sad example of how some of today’s grocers and retailers waste food.
However, in doing what they do, they are able to partner with various companies, local community organizations and groups that believe in food justice and helping to end waste and hunger. And from magazines like The Economist, not-for-profits such as Adventist Health Care, to food conglomerates like Quaker Oats, Hungry Harvest is able to work with different sectors of the economy and media in spreading their vital message. This is naturally augmented by a strong and engaging social media presence.
“For the company I think it’s a great opportunity to engage people that might not know what food waste is, that might not know that rescued produce is a thing; I think that’s the biggest thing that you don’t realize that something gets rejected from a grocery store because of its size shape or color… That if an orange isn’t orange enough it might end up in a landfill, so it’s important to call attention to that, and I think it helps with social media to spread a palatable message that’s easy for people to interact with.”
It’s one thing to use social media platforms to get a basic or bland concept out there, but the marketing team behind Hungry Harvest’s mission does so in a way that already had Paige on board before she joined the team. “Our marketing team is awesome, and our Instagram is something I followed even before I worked there and engaged with just because of all the great content.”
Having a good relationship with local food producers, farmers, and sellers is also important. These partnerships are able to help bring the necessary attention to what Hungry Harvest does. This also has a benefit at the local level through delivering their harvest boxes to schools, businesses, facilities and consumers. And because they take the time to continually change up their product, they’re able to provide all veggie or fruit boxes, organic or mixed harvests, and also have various and specialty add-ons, ensuring each box is as different as it is delicious.
In the end, this all relates to Paige’s philosophy on life: “I try to put out the energy into the world that I would like to get back, so that’s something I try to live by.” This can also be said of what her company does and how they provide a necessary and healthy alternative at the consumer level, while also supporting a social cause that benefits the environment and people everywhere.
Hungry Harvest is based in Baltimore, MD. For more information, call 410-807-3261 or visit HungryHarvest.net.