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Hungry Harvest Helps Holistically 

While studying at the University of Maryland, Evan Lutz discussed food waste and how prevalent it is in this country with a local farmer. “He…

By Kevin
on March 11, 2022

Hungry Harvest produce boxes

While studying at the University of Maryland, Evan Lutz discussed food waste and how prevalent it is in this country with a local farmer. “He said he had all this surplus produce at his farm; I came out to his farm and tried out this idea to try and sell it to college students,” says Lutz. Based on this conversation, the idea grew into what is now known as Hungry Harvest.  

Once featured on Shark Tank, Hungry Harvest’s vision is to ensure that its products are accessible to everyone. They partner with local farmers to provide produce and other pantry staples that do not meet specific grocery store standards. “As a mission-driven enterprise, we are dedicated to working with underserved communities; we’ve reached half a million households since 2016.” Says Kalista Popp, Social Impact Program Coordinator for Hungry Harvest.  

The company has grown and evolved tremendously since its founding. After being founded in College Park, Maryland, Hungry Harvest has grown to become a regional company providing deliveries as far south as the Carolinas and as far north as New Jersey. 

In 2018 Hungry Harvest developed and launched a program called HarvestRx. HarvestRx provides individuals and families bi-weekly deliveries of fresh food and vegetables as proscribed by their provider. HarvestRX currently offers two subscription boxes: a mini box and a full box, with eggs and bread available as add-ons. 

The primary question Hungry Harvest sets out to answer is, “what can we do as a company to make our products accessible to everyone?” One of the ways they address this is by ensuring there are no restrictions around who is eligible for their services.

Their list of primary partners is impressive, including Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Quaker Oats, and the American Heart Association. CCI Health Services is thrilled to be a part of that growing list of partners. 

With every harvest delivered, 10 pounds of food is saved from waste. Since 2014, they have rescued over 27 million pounds of produce and provided over 1.7 million pounds to local hunger-solving partners and initiatives.  

CCI Health Services began the partnership with Hungry Harvest in 2019 by utilizing the HarvestRx program as an incentive for the nutrition-based program for children and teens, Actout! CCI patients who participated in the Actout! program would receive a box of fruits and vegetables after attending four program sessions.  

Jessica Beltran, CCI’s Maternal and Child Health Program Coordinator, shared that “it was great to be able to provide something in return for those children who completed the program.”

She explained that one of the best parts of the HarvestRx program was seeing that “the boxes came addressed with their names on them, so it was exciting for them as well.”

Eventually, CCI expanded its partnership to include participants of the Centering programs and care management patients.  

As part of a $10,000 grant from the Centering Healthcare Institute in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation, CCI has been able to provide HarvestRx subscription boxes to Centering Pregnancy patients for free.

These prenatal patients were able to receive produce boxes for the duration of their pregnancy to help keep their nutrition on track. 

“This effort means that families will have one less health barrier to worry about and will serve as a helping hand in promoting food accessibility without financial or transportation constraints,” Says Jessica Wilson, Chief Strategy Officer for CCI. 

CCI patients credit this partnership for increasing their knowledge about food and healthy eating. “Our patients love HarvestRX. It helps them, and their families make better choices about the food they eat,” says Beltran. 

One patient comes to mind for the Centering team, Lizbeth. Lizbeth participated in the April 2022 Centering Pregnancy cohort at CCI. She came to this country in the summer of 2021, seeking work to help her family back in Honduras. 

She planned to work as many hours as she could to make a decent living. Those plans shifted when she discovered that she was pregnant; she was scared and felt alone. Luckily, a neighbor recommended CCI and helped her make an appointment.  

After talking to a Community Health Worker, she found out about the Centering Pregnancy program and was able to apply for Emergency Medicaid.

After her second Centering session, she received two boxes of fruits and vegetables delivered to her home at no cost. Lizbeth was very excited to share them with those who have been so generous to her.

She was grateful for the fruits since her morning sickness prevented her from freely eating her everyday foods. She tried a new leafy green vegetable, and enjoyed it so much that she decided to add it to her regular diet! 

Since 2019, CCI has delivered 1,931 HarvestRX boxes and has enrolled 480 patients in the program. 

Celebrating National Nutrition Month, CCI Health Services looks forward to growing and nurturing its partnership with Hungry Harvest to continue to change lives in the local community.