Baltimore-based Hungry Harvest, a company with a goal to reduce food waste and alleviate hunger, plans to expand to 30 more cities over the next four years.
Hungry Harvest delivers off-spec fruits and vegetables, and for every box it delivers, the company helps someone in need eat healthy, said CEO and co-founder Evan Lutz. That assistance could be in the form of a donation or through a subsidy program.
Hungry Harvest currently delivers in Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., Miami and Detroit.
The service launched in Miami in late 2017, in Raleigh in January and in Detroit in May.
Lutz said the company has a waiting list with tens of thousands of people who would like to order its produce boxes, and the interest has been spread across the U.S.
“We’ve seen demand from the South, so Atlanta, Jacksonville ... We’re also seeing a lot of traction and a lot of interest in the Northeast, so New York City and Boston and whatnot,” Lutz said. “And then the Midwest is also really interesting — Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and even Texas, so Austin, San Antonio, all those places are really interesting to us.”
The fruits and vegetables that Hungry Harvest uses in its boxes could be available for a number of reasons. An item could be destined for processing or another non-fresh use if it does not meet strict retail standards. The same could be the case if there is surplus product.
The company can also sell items that were rejected at retail for a reason not related to eating quality.
“Sometimes produce will arrive in the wrong case size,” Lutz said. “(We’ve seen) blueberries (that) were supposed to arrive in 6.6-ounce cases and they arrived in 4.4-ounce cases, which then the whole load got rejected. We’ve seen ones where acorn squash has too much orange on the outside.
“We’ve had situations where we had a truckload of cabbage that the cabbage had too much dirt on the outside,” Lutz said. “There are a number of different reasons why produce gets rejected for reasons other than quality.”
Charlotte, N.C., is next on the list for Hungry Harvest.
As the company looks at where else to begin operating, it considers the number of customers interested, the number of farmers, wholesalers and other potential partners in the area, and the hunger problem there and what kind of effect Hungry Harvest could have.
“There’s a lot of farmers we can help and businesses we can help move their products that otherwise wouldn’t be able to find a home ...” Lutz said. “There’s a lot of customers that are requesting us to come to their cities.”
Companies interested in working with Hungry Harvest can get in touch via [email protected].