Employee Spotlight: Marlana Malerich
We love celebrating our wonderful employees, which is why we'd like to introduce you to Marlana (Mar) Malerich, our Social Engagement and Donations Coordinator here in San Francisco. In many ways, Mar is the heart and soul of Imperfect, organizing volunteer events, connecting us with donation partners in each city, and making sure that Imperfect is working hard to improve food access. Want to learn more about how Imperfect gives back and what it's like working at Imperfect? Read on!
Imperfect: Why are you passionate about fighting food waste?
Marlana Malerich: I'm passionate about fighting food waste for so many reasons! 1 in 8 Americans are food insecure. We owe it to our food insecure communities to not waste food that can be eaten. I'm also passionate about respecting the time and livelihood of our farmers. So much time and so many resources go into growing a single piece of produce and farmers deserve to be compensated and respected for that hard work.
I: What is your favorite part of working at Imperfect?
MM: The people and the connections! Since I manage our donations program, I’ve had the opportunity to meet folks all over the country in the non-profit food space. It's been inspiring to learn how different communities are addressing hunger. There are so many innovative ways people are tackling this issue, from the rise in urban farming, to community supported food banks, to food recovery and distribution. There is a powerful nation-wide mobilization to reduce hunger and I'm so grateful that my job encourages these connections.
I: What projects are you most proud of?
MM: I’m so proud of the scale of our donation program as a whole. When I started in August 2016 we had 4 local partners in Emeryville, CA, and we were donating a few hundred pounds of produce a week. Now, we have over 50 donation partners nationwide. Just this year we've donated over 600,000 pounds of produce to our partners. We couldn't have done this without the help of our donation assistants in each market! I am also super proud of the Bayview Free Farmers Market here in San Francisco; a group effort among employees and community members, we distribute thousands of pounds of produce each week to the Bayview community.
I: How does Imperfect give back through produce donations?
MM: Giving back to the community and serving the whole community are central parts of Imperfect's mission. Our mission is to reduce food waste and facilitate access to affordable produce.
Before we launch in a new area, I take the time to research and learn about local community organizations and food advocacy groups. A huge part of the outreach and donations program expansion is understanding the community efforts in place and then offering support in whatever way the community feels is best. The type of organizations we work with vary because of each unique community's needs. We work with a variety of traditional food banks, but we're also excited to support many unique food access groups, for example, a student-run food truck in Milwaukee to a kids cooking club in San Francisco.
How does the Outreach team give back?
MM: Our Outreach team is our volunteer and educational force. Our team commits to a certain number of volunteer hours each month. Team members are also boots-on-the-ground when it comes to assisting folks to sign up for our reduced-cost box program.
Can you highlight a few of our awesome donation partners and how we work with them?
MM: Absolutely! I'm really excited to have made our first donation and delivery to Second Helpings in Indianapolis this week. Second Helpings tackles hunger from all angles, including food recovery, community meals, and job training programs that equip at-risk adults with the skills to be successful in the food industry. This program addresses hunger at its source through job security.
Who are your heroes?
MM: Honestly, our customers. They’ve made our mission to reduce food waste possible by choosing to eat ugly produce.
What do you hope for the future of Imperfect?
MM: I hope we can spread the ugly produce love everywhere!
What’s your favorite thing to make with your Imperfect fruits and veggies?
MM: Pizzas and pies! If you aren’t sure what to do with a piece of produce, you can’t go wrong with putting it in (or on) a crust.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more employee spotlights where we'll learn about and celebrate all the fantastic people that make Imperfect what it is.