The Year of Wellness
Have you ever had one of those moments when life is instantly put into perspective?
That happened to me a week ago when I volunteered at the Franciscan Center (a terrific community kitchen who we’re proud to partner with). I served as a greeter to folks who came in for a Monday night dinner.
The experience was humbling, and reminded me why I do what I do. People were very grateful for the hot meal on a cold winter night. Everyone was friendly, in good spirits, and sociable.
One gentleman was dancing his way up to the line. I said to the enthusiastic client, ‘You’ve got dance moves today!’ To which he replied ‘I do every day. You know why? Because I’m alive today. I’m here! It doesn’t matter what I have, or don’t have, cause I can’t take anything with me!’
I was struck by his energy. I can only imagine how hard his life must be compared to most, yet here he was smiling, dancing, and laughing because he appreciated life. That interaction brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye as I felt immense gratitude for everything I’ve been given in this life.
One of the things, I am most grateful for is the opportunity to create a better food system. I care about community health and the wellbeing of neighborhoods that have been overlooked by traditional business and government policies.
That’s why a few days ago, I told the team at Hungry Harvest that our theme for the coming year will be Wellness. Personal Wellness, Team Wellness, Customer Wellness and Community Wellness.
In fact, community wellness is the reason I started the company in 2014. I’ve always been inspired by businesses who view the world’s challenges as opportunity for improvement rather than opportunity to make a profit. Almost 5 years later, I have been fortunate enough to build a business that has the ability to positively impact people’s lives.
In 2019, it is important to me that we continue to dedicate our efforts to that.
My community wellness resolution for the year is:
Hungry Harvest has the ability, and therefore the responsibility, to better our communities. With programs that have a positive impact both directly and indirectly on the health of underserved communities, we will expand these programs with increased investment.
Right now, we do a few things to better our communities beyond the food rescue work we do delivering harvests.
The first is called Produce in a SNAP.
Produce in a SNAP is a group of 20 reduced-cost community produce markets that are supported by Hungry Harvest subscribers, where we provide access to fresh, affordable produce to families and individuals with limited food access, either geographically or financially.
Now in the third year of our program, our goal is to bring PIAS to every region by the end of 2019. There’s a population of people out there who have income, but lack access to healthy food. They are overlooked by nonprofit donations and by traditional grocers. We hope to help close that gap.
In 2018, we formed another partnership with athenahealth to launch free produce markets and grow our impact both inside and outside of our delivery areas. It’s inspiring to know more companies are seeing community health through the lens of access to produce. They’ve been a terrific partner and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with them. Between December 2018 and January 2019 we will have participated in 8 markets in Raleigh, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Detroit.
While expanding PIAS and engaging with athenahealth, we started thinking about other populations that have limited access to food. Working from the theme of wellness, we explored partnerships with healthcare organizations - hospitals, insurance companies, and other care providers. In doing so, we developed a program called harvestRX.
Launched in 2018, harvestRX is a produce prescription program that delivers free boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to patients that have been identified by their care provider as lacking access to healthy food. Through the support of the care provider, the patient gets the box for free and the community gets a wellness boost by using a tool that has previously never been available to them: healthy produce.
This year, we’re expanding all of these programs.
We’ve added two full-time team members to each program, and our first PIAS launch outside of Maryland will take place in Raleigh in a couple weeks. Stacy, our Director of Sales and Partnerships and the driving force behind harvestRX, has spoken at dozens of national conferences across the country about the future of the food-is-medicine movement. Will, our Food Access Manager and the heart and soul of PIAS, has added dozens of partners outside of Baltimore to his pipeline and they are thrilled to help us grow the program.
2019 is off to a great start and I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the team of Hungry Harvesters on a mission to build a better food system by taking the time to invest in and care about the wellbeing of our communities.
Thank you for helping us make this all a reality.