Evan Lutz, 25-year-old entrepreneur from Baltimore, Maryland, spoke to the Waynesburg University student body April 3. The title of the presentation, “One Man’s Trash is Another’s Treasure: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Selling Ugly Produce,” is based off of Evan Lutz’s lifelong goal of nurturing the environment.
“As a college senior, Evan partnered with a local farmer to sell the farmer’s less-than-perfect produce to Evan’s fellow college students,” Dana Baer, provost and professor of criminal justice, said.
This method of entrepreneurship grew Lutz’s college career by building the network of contacts, locally and on campus, that led to his first business.
“He sold this produce for $5 for five pounds out of the basement of a dorm,” Baer said, “often with a line of students stretching out the door.”
Baer alongside Stacey Brodak, vice president for Institutional Advancement and University Relations, invited Lutz to come to campus. Baer explained that they reached out to Lutz through an agency the university occasionally goes through to get speakers to come to campus.
“Given the food insecurities facing our area, we feel his message is timely,” Baer said, “but it also is relevant to many institutional initiatives and programs, including environmental science, campus recycling, entrepreneurial leadership and undergraduate and graduate business programs.”
Lutz, who was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank with the idea of Hungry Harvest, made a deal with Robert Herjavec, which helped launch the enterprise. Hungry Harvest is a produce delivery service that aims to fight food waste and hunger. The service purchases surplus produce from farms, curates the food into boxes and delivers them to doorsteps.
The curated boxes are made based on customers’ requests. Not only is it cutting the prices of normal produce, but it has and is helping eliminate food waste and helping the environment as well.
“Almost a quarter of agricultural water is used to grow food that’s not eaten,” according to the Hungry Harvest website. The amount equivalates to greenhouse gas emission of one in seven cars “by growing, shipping and processing uneaten food.”
The Hungry Harvest website claims they have recovered over 12 million pounds of food from being wasted and gave access to more than 915,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables for people who need it.
This year’s theme for Hungry Harvest is wellness, including community, customer, team and personal wellness.
Lutz went into detail during his presentation about what inspired him to start Hungry Harvest. During his senior project, the issue of food waste and hunger in the U.S. peaked his interest. He wanted to help create a business model that sustained profit, growth and impact at scale.
“We strive for a diverse selection of speakers every academic year for various speaker series, including but not limited to the Rosetta Kormuth DeVito Lecture and two different Glenna A. and Jane L. Crosby Lectures,” Baer said. “We find speakers whose messages are relevant and can resonate with our students, faculty and staff.”