O-Town Kitchen and Green Urban Lunch Box — made for each other

Thursday , August 10, 2017 - 4:30 AM


Green Urban Lunch Box picked more fruit than it could use.

O-Town Kitchen needed produce to expand.

It was almost as if they were made for each other.

  • RELATED: “2 Utah organizations with similar missions partner to reduce food waste”

Green Urban Lunch Box, based in Salt Lake City, seeks to address hunger yard by yard, block by block and community by community.

“Our programs focus on maximizing existing resources to not only fight hunger, but also strengthen the communities in which we work,” the organization says on its website.

It teaches people to farm in urban spaces, builds and tends gardens in the back yards of disadvantaged seniors, operates a mobile produce market in Salt Lake City food deserts, and coordinates what it calls a FruitShare program.

According to Shawn Peterson, executive director and founder of Green Urban Lunch Box, FruitShare works like this: Homeowners register their trees with Green Urban Lunch Box, and when the fruit is ripe, volunteers pick it.

Homeowners receive a third, volunteers get a third, and Green Urban Lunch Box takes a third to feed the hungry.

“The idea was that there are all these fruit trees in people’s yards that they weren’t using and were just going to waste,” Peterson told Matilyn Mortensen, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner. “At the same time, there are people in our community who don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Volunteers and homeowners rarely take their full share of the harvest, however, leaving Fruitshare with too much fruit.

Meanwhile, in Ogden, the O-Town Kitchen provides jobs for single mothers by making jam from discarded fruit.

Business is good. Almost too good, said founder Isaac Farley.

Sales grew so quickly that it became difficult to collect enough fruit, Farley told Mortensen.

Farley knew about Peterson and Green Urban Lunch Box, and Peterson knew about Farley and O-Town Kitchen. The met in March when Farley spoke at the Intermountain Sustainability Summit, held at Weber State University.

In May, they formed a partnership. Green Urban Lunch Box provides O-Town Kitchen with fruit, receiving a portion of sales in return.

“Them becoming one of our food suppliers has helped to reinforce that second part of our mission, about saving perfectly edible food from going to waste,” Farley said.

Green Urban Lunch Box benefits from a new revenue stream that helps it feed Utah’s hungry, and O-Town Kitchen gets the food it needs to keep single mothers employed.

Everybody wins.

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