Krunch Kitchen: From Food Pantry to Granola & a Giveaway

After staying home to raise three small children close in age, Janet Schwamm C89A7191-Edit 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.

C89A7730 C89A7724

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)


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
This entry was posted in food, reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Krunch Kitchen: From Food Pantry to Granola & a Giveaway

  1. Janet sounds like a caring person who gives back to the world, and is now following her passion. May she be the Ben and Jerry’s of healthy breakfast cereals!


  2. This is such a fun, great post.


  3. madtaylor says:

    Wow – I love that she went from Chem E to granola officionado. Then again, David is always coming up with fantastical ideas instead of being a lawyer (professional natural PB stirrer); perhaps making granola meets more of a need that a professional peanut butter stirrer and it may prove to be more lucrative. I love granola and am always trying new combos and brands. Used to make my own all the time but my husband and daughter prefer the less nutty more sugary varieties found in the cereal aisle at Giant. Yesterday at staff breakfast, my colleague brought in a chocolate hazlenut variety that – although not homemade – was divine!!!


  4. Ricky says:

    I have tried and loved this granola. It is amazing!


  5. What a great idea. I wish her much success. Thanks for sharing Janet’s story with us! ❤
    Diana xo


  6. susanissima says:

    Janet sounds like a delightful, energetic and well-balanced person! Thanks for sharing her story, Lisa. The blogosphere needs more positive, uplifting posts like the ones you contribute regularly. ❤


  7. She epitomizes the motto “if you want something done find a busy person!” Good for her! We have a local granola in Whole Foods Cville – Michaela’s and I love the ginger! It’s twice as expensive but sells out every time.


  8. Wendy Evenson says:

    We love what Janet is doing!! Know her from summers in Jackson Hole Wyoming 🙂


  9. Bella Bonnechance says:

    We love Kitchen Krunch! Thanks for sharing it will us, Lisa …..


  10. Wehaf says:

    What an amazing woman! I’d be delighted to try her granola; it sounds just as fabulous as she is.


  11. What an inspiring post, Lisa! I feel like I’m in a similar boat, as Janet– kids grown, passion for the non-profits (2) I serve, and a desire to find my niche… Bravo, to Janet for combining them all and building a business she is proud to do, and bravo to you for telling us about it!

    Sorry I’m so late all the time, but just barely keeping up these days. 😉


  12. Roberta Probber says:

    Janet makes THE BEST granola. Nothing more need be said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s