Every day, tens of millions of men, women and children throughout America struggle with hunger. Hunger doesn’t just affect individuals and neighborhoods that one might think.
Many are hard working adults and seniors who can’t make ends meet and are forced to miss meals. What would you do if faced with the choice between paying for food or paying for medication? Feeding your family or making a mortgage payment?
And hunger in children is more than just about meals. It’s about their future. Studies suggest that children who are hungry do not do as well academically and are more likely to live in poverty as adults. This ultimately impacts every single one of us. There are many great organizations and individuals on the front lines of this battle. By supporting them, we can provide food and resources to people and families struggling with hunger. Elara, a Jericho, NY-based manufacturer of disposable gloves, bags, aprons and related single use products offers a hunger relief solution with their signature One Case • One Meal program.
Elara’s relief program is providing meals in partnership with local food banks to people struggling with hunger. “With more than 49 million individuals suffering from hunger in our country, it’s critical that we tackle the hunger problem. In supplying a meal to someone in need for every case of Elara’s products purchased, Elara has teamed with Long Island based foodservice distributor DiCarlo Foods to raise the bar for the foodservice industry. Our employees are ecstatic that we are making a difference in our hunger relief efforts, and our customers have demonstrated deep support of Elara’s One Case * One Meal program, helping to drive further product sales. We look forward to continuing to deliver new, innovative approaches to tackling the hunger problem together with Elara.” –Vincent DiCarlo Jr., Vice President of Marketing & Purchasing, DiCarlo Food Service.
For each case of Elara products purchased, Elara provides a meal to an individual at risk of going hungry. Elara team members and their families also participate in a variety of other hunger relief activities, as well, including volunteering at local food banks, holding food drives and educating our community on issues and solutions related to hunger. The company has already donated more than 300,00 meals to those suffering from hunger. Total Food sat down with Elara’s founder, Dan Grinberg, to talk more about Elara and their One Case • One Meal program.
How did Elara get into the food service disposables industry?
In 1990 I joined Island Poly, a family business established by my father. In 1992 I created the FoodHandler brand line of disposable gloves, aprons, poly bags and related disposables. FoodHandler became the company’s new growth engine, so much so that the company name was changed to FoodHandler Inc. in 2000. From there, the company’s revenues grew twenty-fold before it was acquired by a group of private equity buyers.
In 2010 I rejoined with a group of my former colleagues from FoodHandler and established Elara Foodservice Disposables as a social-mission driven producer of foodservice disposables.
What makes Elara different from its competitors?
The fact that Elara is providing a solution to a critical social issue—hunger relief—is an important point of differentiation. Elara’s One Case • One Meal program allows our customers to be a part of the solution as well. As for our products, we are focused on developing new products and materials that solve a variety of operator needs. For example, our Digifit elastipolymer gloves are a lower cost alternative to vinyl gloves, saving operators money while still providing form-fitting protection. Our EverfitMAX nitrile gloves are formulated to be extra-durable yet flexible and are perfect for applications such as meat and shellfish handling.
What led to the creation of the One Case-One Meal initiative?
I’ve been involved in hunger relief for more than a decade, as a food bank volunteer and Director and Treasurer of Island Harvest, a Feeding America food bank. However, I never walked in the shoes of someone living in a food insecure household. To that end, in 2010, during the time I was formulating Elara’s business plan, I lived on a food stamp budget with my wife and two children for a month. It was incredibly difficult to get by and solidified my desire to build a company that would help people struggling with hunger. I then researched other social enterprises and was inspired by companies like TOMS Shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair it sells. One Case • One Meal brings this model to the foodservice industry.
What impact has the program had on fighting hunger?
Thanks to the support of our customers we have already provided well over 300,000 meals to people in need. Not just in New York but in other parts of the country, as well. We are also driving awareness of the issue, which we hope will inspire others to get involved in some fashion.
Talk about Elara's relationship with Island Harvest?
Island Harvest is a model for how One Case • One Meal works on a local level. Elara wants to make sure that meals are getting to the intended recipients, so by working with a high-integrity food bank such as Island Harvest we know the job will get done. In addition, I am on the Island Harvest board, and our staff and families often volunteer our time with Island Harvest events, food drives and other initiatives. That’s on a local Long Island level. I should also mention that City Harvest and food banks in other markets are also beneficiaries of the One Case • One Meal program.
Do these social programs require a restaurateur to make a decision that they will pay a premium for the Elara line in return for a commitment to social consciousness?
There is no cost premium. In fact, through our focus on great quality products, Elara products are not only cost-effective, but they also translate into less waste, greater efficiencies and enhanced food safety to protect your bottom line.
If a restaurateur wants to buy the product and their distributor doesn't carry your sku's what can they do to get it?
We have terrific distributors that we work with. Please contact Elara and we will coordinate with one of them to get you our products.
How does someone contact Elara for more information and ideas on how their organization can join the fight against hunger?
Elara can be contacted through our website at ElaraDisposables.com, or by phone at 877.893.3244. You can ask to speak to me. I am also interested in hearing about what others in the industry are doing to support hunger relief efforts. Finally, you can contact your local food bank to see what you can do to help there as well.