The Ohio Sourced and Sauced project was established to determine the feasibility of processing a nutritious sauce using “U.S. Grade B” fresh produce purchased from Ohio specialty crop growers, then define resources for delivery, and later, distribute the product to food banks and pantries across Ohio.  The project helps address a clearly defined need recognized by the daily challenges in food availability.

The connectivity to specialty crop growers is two-fold in that many already supply the food bank with excess product but can now capitalize on this channel as a revenue stream for less than ideal items for direct consumer sale.  Growers can be financially compensated for the produce that otherwise may have remained in the field due to imperfections.

Recognizing this option reduces risk when integrating a new crop into the operation and will allow for grower expansion.

A major barrier of the project was found to be price; processing, packaging, and transportation costs are prohibitive.  Some creative ways around these barriers include processing the product once or twice a year (at The Ohio State University) when the crops are in season, and having university students handle this piece.

Another scenario might offer the sauce as a product that could be made by clients themselves.  On-site cooking classes through Ohio State extension offices (or any school) could teach nutritional value through a hands-on do-it-yourself approach.  Possible federal programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or, SNAP, could be incorporated.

Finally, working with non-profit organizations who serve those in need could be further explored.

The sauce was prepared at Toledo, Ohio based Cherry Street Mission – an organization that serves people in need through food and housing.

The organization reported very positive feedback from patrons that sampled the sauce.  CIFT employees were honored to take part in the first production run of the sauce!