By Andrew Wroblewski
As best friends since elementary school, college roommates and, now, business partners, Scott Reich and Michael Winik always knew they would start a business together. But with Reich landing in law and Winik in investment banking, the duo wasn’t sure exactly what that business would be.
One thing was for sure, though.
“We wanted to focus on something with a social vision,” Winik, 31, said.
In founding OurHarvest, a business venture that works directly with food suppliers to get customers fresh, quality, low-cost food, both Reich and Winik are proud of their social vision. With every order of $25 or more placed at www.ourharvest.com, the duo donates a meal to a local food pantry in or around the customer’s neighborhood. Orders are picked up one of OurHarvest’s Long Island community partners, including the Huntington location of Family Service League, a non-profit human services organization.
“We felt like Huntington is a great community and has a strong craving for the products that we’re offering,” Reich, 31, said. “Family Service League jumped out at us so we approached them… They loved the idea to raise awareness of hunger and invited us to use their Huntington location as a pickup spot.”
With products ranging from organic Scottish Salmon and rainbow carrots to New York City-grown green leaf lettuce and chicken drumsticks, OurHarvest allows its customers to put products into their cart that are gathered from food suppliers across the United States. Those orders are processed and customers can choose one of 13 Long Island markets to pick up from. There’s no middleman, the business partners said, so prices are low, the food is fresh, quality is consistent and – perhaps most importantly – hunger is being battled.
“Thanks to the generosity of OurHarvest, over 200 meals have been donated to our clients… many of whom are struggling with mental illness or who are homeless,” Karen Boorshtein, president and CEO of Family Service League, said. “Their contribution in the fight against hunger is helping to make a difference in the lives of others. We truly appreciate their partnership.”
This vision of Reich and Winik emerged in June 2014 shortly after Winik was food shopping with his wife and had an epiphany.
“The bill between the two of us came to $150 and it just didn’t make sense for literally two meals,” Winik, who splits his time between Manhattan and East Hills’ residences, said. “I called up Scott and said that there was something weird here, and we studied the food supply chain for about two years.”
What the two found out was that farms typically see a 10-20 percent return on their products due to the many instances of middlemen that get in-between them and their customers. Starting with just three community partners, OurHarvest was born, and although Reich and Winik were just getting their feet wet in the new business territory, they both fell in love with their customers and social presence.
“We’re not a faceless company,” Reich, also of both Manhattan and East Hills, said. “Each day is a little bit different, but we’re focused on customer service. We offer great products, but we also do it with a smile.”
So far, over 4,000 meals have been donated by OurHarvest to local pantries thanks to the hundreds of people who visit the website each day. The success has given Reich and Winik aspirations to expand, both even further across Long Island and, eventually, into the five boroughs.