After staying home to raise three small children close in age, Janet Schwamm felt it was time to “come out from under,” and began volunteering at the Interfaith Food Pantry about five miles from her suburban New Jersey home.
As the children grew and needed her less, Janet increased her hours at the non-profit organization, including serving on the board. Her pride in the organization is evident. “We started serving about 15 people a week; now it’s over 150.”
For Janet, a chemical engineering major who worked in technical sales and marketing, the food pantry offered balance between being at home, working part-time as a consultant, and volunteering in a cause she’s passionate about. “We live in one of most industrial countries in the world. The fact that many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from is a crime; to have the ability to do something and do nothing is an even greater crime,” she said.
Yet as her children entered college, she wanted to contribute to the family’s finances. “I felt I still needed to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said, admitting she placed self-imposed obstacles before her. “I’d think about all the ‘buts and what ifs” that could take up my time and perhaps detract from my family life and the food pantry. “ (She also serves as a literacy tutor to 2nd & 3rd grade boys.)
She prioritized. Food and the food pantry topped her list. “For me, I grew up with a grandmother whose motto was ‘food is love.’ And I believe it too.” Janet loves to eat, cook, read about food, and eat in restaurants, trying new dishes and learning about different cultures. She’d always made her own granola, having tweaked recipes for years and perfecting two Passover concoctions: matzo crack, a chocolate covered matzo nut brittle; and matzo granola.
At brunch with her family last December, she announced she was starting a granola business. Then she did nothing except dream about it for the next couple of months. Around the same time, she was recruited to work part-time at a non-profit that would have required she give up the food pantry due to time constraints. She then realized that in her mind at least, she’d already started her business and nothing could lure her away from the food pantry.
Her children helped her create the website and Krunch Kitchen was born. Janet hosted an open house that drew 30-40 people and she’s filled more than 150 orders in less than six weeks. The granola business has taken over the first floor of her colonial home; though Janet hopes to find commercial kitchen space soon so she can cook larger batches.
Janet’s overall goal is combine her two loves: feeding her family by building a successful business, possibly adding other crunchy products like biscotti and toffee nut brittle; and growing enough to be able to hire some of the food pantry patrons to work with her.
Janet has offered to giveaway one 1 lb. bag of her original granola.
Enter a comment below and I’ll draw a name randomly at the end of next week. (Continental US only). I can vouch for the granola. It’s delicious and I’ve already given a few bags away as gifts.
(photos by Abigail Schwamm)