Update (January 2017): Evan Lutz was recently named on Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 list of Social Entrepreneurs. Mazel tov!
“It’s a good time to get into the food delivery business. The competition doesn’t scare me—even Amazon has started to deliver groceries,” shares Evan Lutz, co-founder and CEO of Hungry Harvest.
Lutz and co-founders Ben Simon and John Zamora (COO) started Hungry Harvest in 2013 as students at the University of Maryland, College Park, fulfilling their dream of starting a business with a social mission. The company has since expanded to Washington, DC, and Baltimore.
Hungry Harvest purchases both gleaned produce from the Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network (MAGNET) and produce seconds from local farmers. According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council report, nearly 40 percent of US-grown fresh produce is wasted prior to harvest. Sometimes truckloads of produce are rejected at their final destination because of miscommunication along the food supply chain. Instead of letting this surplus food end up in landfills, Hungry Harvest sells and delivers it to customers.
Hungry Harvest uses a community-supported agriculture (CSA) model whereby customers can purchase a full share of the week’s fruits and vegetables for $17 or a half share for $12. At approximately $2 per pound, Hungry Harvest’s prices are, on average, $1 per pound cheaper than area groceries and farmers markets.
Produce is sorted at the MAGNET warehouse on Saturdays. High school and college students make deliveries throughout DC and Baltimore (see delivery locations) on Sundays. Hungry Harvest is able to deliver fresh produce all year round because MAGNET gleans on farms south of the DC area, and some farmers like Shlagel Farms grow produce year round in greenhouses.
For every pound sold, MAGNET donates a pound of produce to a local food bank or feeding program. Hungry Harvest also donates its own leftovers each week. Any food not fit for human consumption is culled and composted by growingSOUL so nothing goes to waste.
Lutz is currently focused on forming partnerships with organizations, houses of worship and businesses to attract groups of new customers in one location. “We’re talking with HR and wellness managers to offer their employees healthy, inexpensive produce that reduces waste and gives back to community,” explains Lutz.
The company will need to double its current customer base, to about 250 CSA shares, in order to become profitable. Lutz is optimistic that they will reach profitability within six months. In the future, he hopes to increase capacity in order to be able to offer specialty CSA shares, such as an all-organic one, an all-local one and one composed entirely of seconds. He even imagines Hungry Harvest franchising to other communities. “But first,” Lutz sums up, “we want to focus on making Hungry Harvest successful right here, close to home.”