During my college career, I had the unique opportunity to spend three months interning with an agriculture NGO in Nepal. It was during this experience I witnessed a very confusing disparity – hungry farmers. During my later studies and travels I continued to see this same story; families who worked tirelessly growing and harvesting food for their communities, yet they went to bed each night hungry. This ignited my passion to work in food security and to figure a way to prevent these kinds of inequalities from continuing throughout the supply chain. This appetite to work in the food security sector lead me and Danielle Partyka to partner with Gleaners Community Food Bank to complete our impact project.

This winter, the Food Bank of Michigan approached Gleaners with a 20,000-pound donation of carrot puree. In the past, Gleaners has turned down donations of this size because they lacked a system to process and distribute so much product. To enable Gleaners to begin accepting large bulk donations, we created a process handbook. This includes templates and guidelines which can be replicated with a variety of produce donations.

We created this handbook by aiding Gleaners throughout the whole process from receiving the donation to distributing the final product to consumers. Through multiple recipe variations and rounds of taste testing, the puree was made into a garden vegetable sauce. The sauce was purposely created to be versatile and easily manipulated to fit with various cuisines. The final product was distributed to agency partners, the Mobile Pantry Program, and food distribution centers. Our handbook will help Gleaners provide nutritious food to Southeast Michigan residents and continue to actively cut down on food waste within the state.