Pete's Brian Cook Discusses Food Donations and Deterring Waste Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
CARPINTERIA, CA - Return on investment can go deeper than the bottom line. As brands become more and more identifiable, the investment of time and heart become points of sale as strong as the product itself, with challenging times putting these attributes on full display.
Recently we have covered many in our industry, growers, foodservice operators, and retailers, seeing an avenue to avoid waste and contribute to communities across North America in one fell swoop. One among them is Pete’s.
“Like many farms across the nation who normally sell produce within the foodservice channel, we are being left without these buyers due to mandated restaurant dine-in closures. As such, we have been dealing with extra inventory that without a home, we would have no choice but to dump,” Brian Cook, company President, shares with me. “We started to hear a lot about food bank donations drying up, and we also learned that an estimated 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment so we wanted to make sure that we put this extra product to good use and to make a difference in our community.”
Since the beginning of April, the company has been working closely with a local nonprofit called Upper Ojai Relief. Butter Lettuce and Watercress donations the team has made and continue to make are going to feed local families that need it most.
“The true heroes are those putting in a lot of hours at Upper Ojai Relief. They helped coordinate efforts to donate excess Pete’s Butter Lettuce and Cress to families in the Ojai Unified School District, which is close to our Carpinteria, California, greenhouse facility,” Brian explains. “To date, we have donated over 2,000 Pete’s Butter Lettuce Heads and over 3,000 bags of Watercress, and we plan on continuing to donate product to them as long as they can use it!”
Others among us in line with Pete’s have been suppliers like Bolthouse Farms and Driscoll’s, as well as retailers like Hy-Vee and Publix just to name a few, as operations both large and small look to bring some good out of this crisis.
Loyalty is forged in fire, and as produce purveyors like Pete’s continue to prove their metal, I can’t help but think these will be the brands consumers remember in better times.