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2023 In Review

2023 In Review

By Al Raddock

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Hi everyone,


Happy holidays and thank you for all of your support this year. In a lot of ways, this year feels like the first with our feet on (mostly) solid ground since 2020. Work-from-home and office routines are increasingly predictable, and the majority of us at Green Top have worked together for some time and have set down roots in a new facility that combines our office, culinary, and operations teams. 


Last year at this time, we were looking for greater maturity in our processes “…for our minds, our personal lives, and as a group that wanted to feel good about the way we spent our time”. I’m happy we’ve been able to focus on that this year, rolling out new food safety plans and certifications to make our operation more streamlined while also future-proofing it to have a wider impact on the community. Week by week, we were guided by greater strategy and reporting that provided clarity in our roles and allowed us to measure our efforts. More simply, it allowed us to have good days, focus, and help one another.

 


A mild fear I have of this sort of increased maturity is that it will make our food feel more commercial, especially as we make hundreds of evolving recipes a week to service different programs and requirements in offices, schools, and at events. But all year, those doubts were regularly put to rest as feedback rolled in from clients noting the quality and “love” that came through in the dishes—the same sort of sentiments we heard early on when it was just a handful of us, a couple prep tables, and a produce list for a single menu a day. As our small food system gets bigger, it’s the care and the capacity of our team that continues to make that achievable. One thing that is different is that change no longer comes from a few people, but from all over. It’s inspiring to be a part of and I think it comes from the increasing trust we all have in one another from watching each other work.

This year, we’ve been able to remain a nimble and reliable partner in the community, working overtime to deliver thousands of meals on wheels to folks and step in to feed a high school network of 2,000+ kids when their kitchen was down and the school year was starting.


And as we rolled out plans that could make bespoke sourcing more challenging, we’ve continued to look towards the region, developing direct relationships with folks like Dagele Bros upstate and Seneca Grain in the finger lakes for great root veggies and grains.

We gave a few tours of our facility this year and one industry veteran recently asked "who knew how to do all this!?" during the visit. We shrugged as we fumbled for an answer, but it stayed on my mind all week before I followed up over e-mail—GTF isn't somewhere where we hired manufacturing experts to set things up. Instead, have a lot of smart people who care deeply about their work and our mission. That has created an environment that like anywhere, is imperfect, but makes it a really special place to work, learn, and see out ideas. 

Though the question also signaled an arrival which doesn’t feel representative of where we’re at either—being a manager here still means you may often wake up worried about call-outs, or being shorted a case of something, or just running out of time in the day. But I do think we're closer to this goal of building a model that can continue to create greater access and reintroduce folks to better nutrition and local farms.


To all of you, thank you so much for all of your support. It allows us do something we all love.


Happy New Year,

Al

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