By: Tevan Goldberg, Emma Bliska, and Charlie Mitchell
While December is typically the time of year for nostalgic retrospective pieces from nonprofit organizations, being college students, it’s easier to reflect on the year as September approaches. And what a year it’s been! Thanks to the continued faith and enthusiastic support of our wonderful customers as well as the efforts of some exemplary new members of our team, we couldn’t be more proud of where we are now and the possibilities in the (school) year ahead.
Our first big milestone happened in October 2015 when Midd Foods was officially designated as a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which gave us a long-awaited tax-exempt status. Following that, April 2016 saw our first delivery with over 200 individual orders, and we far surpassed 300 in May - Midd Foods now has nearly four times the monthly revenue compared to this time last year, and over three times as many customers. So what changed?
More Delivery Sites: Starting last September, we added the Bristol delivery, which has since grown to be our second-largest behind Middlebury. Our goal is to eventually be within a convenient distance to all Addison County towns, and perhaps to areas beyond. Bristol was such a huge success that we also expanded to Bridport, and look forward to increasing our presence on the western side of the county. If you live in Addison County and know a location that could use us, please reach out!
New Products: At this time last summer, Middlebury Foods customers had relatively slim options: the Family Package, Produce Bag, or Meat Box. We have since expanded our selection of products, based on the interest expressed from customers. Due to your input, we introduced two new bags in the last year, the Essentials Bag and Fruit Bag. We created the Essentials Bag in order to provide an affordable and consistent product of staple fruits and vegetables, and the Fruit Bag for customers that had no need of vegetables during the summer gardening months. We hope you like them!
Lower Prices: Many of you may have noticed that this spring, we cut our prices across the board, lowering the cost of our Produce Bag to $16, our Family Package to $30, and our Essentials Bag to $10. We did this for two reasons: a) Because our principal mission is affordability, and b) because of our increased volume of sales, it’s financially possible to sell all of our products at lower prices. We continue to explore various ways to save our customers on groceries, and as the number of orders continues to increase, even more affordability may be just around the corner.
Choose-Your-Own-Meat Option: While we are more affordable and hopefully more convenient than the grocery store, one positive aspect of old-school grocery shopping that we have worked to incorporate into our model has been the freedom of choice one has in the store. In response to customer feedback, we’ve become more flexible to customer preference by allowing you to self-select the meat in your Meat or Family packages.
Local Offerings: You might have noticed we sell a few more things now than we used to. Our goal has always been to offer a variety of options for our customers, while still retaining the simplicity and affordability of our core products like the Family Box; we’ve accomplished this by gradually building up a catalogue of offerings from local Vermont farms. Starting with grass-fed ground beef from Smith Family Farm in New Haven last summer, some of our new products include: eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, organic produce from Golden Russet Farm in Shoreham, delicious cheeses from Bridport Creamery, and much, much more. You’d be hard pressed to find better prices on most of these items anywhere else. Best of all, your purchases allow us to directly support Vermont’s local food economy!
SNAP: Again responding to customer demand, we received permission from the USDA to accept SNAP payment. Many of our customers have begun to pay both in person and over phone with their EBT cards, and we are working hard to increase our number of customers paying with SNAP. We also moved our delivery dates to the start of the month to better accommodate those using SNAP benefits.
Once again, we want to thank everyone involved in making this last year so gainful for Middlebury Foods and its mission, particularly our loyal customers - without your support, we’re nothing. Please don’t hesitate to continue giving us your input for how to make our service the best it can possibly be, and stay tuned for more blog posts!
Best wishes in the year ahead,
Charlie, Emma, Tevan, and the Midd Foods Team