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VOL. 40 | NO. 35 | Friday, August 26, 2016

Local meal kits have benefit of less packaging

By Hollie Deese

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Grace McDaniels, foreground, and MEEL owner Marti Emch fill crates with local food products.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

When Marti Emch drops off her perishable box of meal kits to her MEEL customers, ensuring freshness of her most expensive resource – the food – is imperative.

“The packaging is unique because it all gets, for the most part, returned to us,” she says. Using wood crates from Elberta Crate & Box in Southern Georgia, subscribers remove their items and leave the crate out to be picked up with the following week’s drop-off.

“We also package in glass jars as much as we can, and you return those to us with your crate and we sanitize and reuse those,” she says. “The produce, because it’s hand-delivered and is typically unpacked within two hours, it’s not in plastic bags. It’s kind of like a CSA basket.”

Typically, there is a lot of waste created with meal-delivery kits, from the cardboard boxes to the ice packs and insulation measures used to keep perishables fresh as they cross the country. So the fact Emch only delivers in Nashville makes it possible for her to practically eliminate waste.

“We will never ship to other places because it’s really just a local service,” she explains. “I can see taking this model to another city and doing a local service there, but we’ll never ship Nashville produce to California.”

Drivers for MEEL do deliveries on Mondays and Tuesdays between 3 and 5 p.m. making sure to leave the crate on the front porch or other shady spot is. Then a text message is sent to the subscriber to alert them the food is there.

“It hits that sweet spot of moms who pick up their kids from school and get home between 3 and 3:30, but also people who work later,” Emch says.

“They should be home in time to get it unpacked. In the winter months, it can sit even longer.”

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