We have seen so much incredible generosity and humanity during the trying times of the past two years. It’s what we call “RINDness,” or being exceedingly kind and as the Director of Mission for RIND Snacks I have been focusing on how an emerging brand can make a difference.
While COVID-19 has certainly been one of the most trying times in the nation’s modern history, it has also revealed so much about our society, magnifying our challenges and highlighting our strengths.
Poverty and hunger are not new in America; but the challenges related to these issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have endured worse health outcomes and harsher COVID experiences, partly due to lack of healthcare. It’s also the result of insufficient nutrition, referred to as “nutrition insecurity.” Kids don’t just need calories, they need nutrient dense foods to maintain wellness.
When COVID shutdowns caused the traditional model of free food through schools to come to an abrupt close, Baltimore Hunger Project pivoted its services to address the overwhelmingly and urgent need created by childhood hunger, The organization’s leaders have worked tirelessly since the onset of the pandemic to boost BHP’s impact via in-kind food donations and monetary support needed to keep programs running amidst the challenges. The distribution wouldn’t have been possible without a dramatic increase in volunteer hours and in-kind donations from committed partners.
When RIND Snacks saw BHP spring into action, our Founders, Matt Weiss and Ben Cohn, were inspired. In response to the growing challenges caused by the pandemic, we created Love Is RIND, a program that addressed nutrition insecurity in school children by donating free products and volunteering our time to assist with the distribution of our snacks and other nutrition dense food products as opportunity allows. In 2021, RIND donated more than 30,000 pouches of our healthy dried fruit snacks to school children from Baltimore to San Francisco. While Love Is RIND didn’t exist before COVID, through these acts of RINDness we are proud to be contributing to a better outcome for many and partnering with BHP to do so.
It’s been said that the world doesn’t have a food production problem. We have a logistics problem. It’s a challenge getting healthy food into the mouths of kids who can’t afford it. That’s why Love Is RIND works to support the Baltimore Hunger Project using its resources to gather nutritious food and deliver it into the neediest children’s backpacks.
Waste is another problem with food distribution, with more than 40% of what is considered imperfect or unusable food ending up in landfills. The core of RIND Snacks’ brand ethos is that we keep the rinds on our fruit, to increase the nutritional value and to prevent food waste. We prefer to feed people, not landfills and in 2021 have diverted more than 300,000 pounds of food waste from our efforts.
We all want this pandemic to end. At the same time, we also want the RINDness to remain, the generosity to remain, the focus on addressing nutrition insecurity to remain, and the ability to get healthy foods in the mouths of the most vulnerable to remain.
BHP is pivoting once again now that schools have reopened and RIND Snacks’ Love Is RIND program will pivot with them. Hunger will continue to plague us, and RIND is committed to be there to provide help for those in need.
Andrew Buerger is the Baltimore-based Director of Mission at RIND Snacks, which makes all natural skin-on dried fruit snacks. By keeping the peel on our fruits, we are able to add nutritional value and fight food waste.