The COVID-19 pandemic has presented all of us with previously unimaginable challenges. Restaurants have been forced to close, supermarket shelves lie empty, and we’re all holing up at home to help flatten the curve.
To serve our community during this crisis, however, the team at Walden Local Meat Co.—a North East-based company that delivers the highest quality local meat straight to your door—is still braving the streets, working around the clock and harder than ever.
Founded six years ago, Walden Local Meat Co. began, literally, with a vision and a van. Founder Charley Cummings came up with the original concept: To offer consumers a completely alternative supply chain for 100% grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken, pork and lamb, an end to end system that directly and conveniently connected people with local farmers. Enter the van. Cummings purchased said vehicle and started a pilot program with roughly 50 families in the Boston area. Within just two months, it was clear that his vision was coming to life and he opened membership to the larger public.
Now, Walden Local Meat Co. works with over 75 different farms across New York and New England (plus many local fishermen), co-owns their own processing plant in Vermont—and still does all their own deliveries.
“One of our unwritten company values is that we tend to do things the hard way,” says Cummings, with a knowing laugh. “But the choices we made in building our entire supply chain from scratch have really helped us in this crisis and it’s helped our farmers, too. We’re not dependent on any other big companies or marketplaces, and we’re able to continue to offer people what we’ve always offered them, even in less crazy times.”
This is key. While many companies have watched the COVID-19 crisis unfold, they’ve asked their teams, “How can we take advantage of this?” At Walden Local Meat, the only question Cummings and his team asked was, “How can we continue to feed our communities?”
“It’s been incredibly challenging,” says Cummings. “Last week, we were scratching our heads as to whether or not we’d have to shut our doors. So we had an all-hands meeting just to discuss it, and there was this consensus that, actually, we were really made for this moment. Since then, everybody has just absolutely been crushing it and working tirelessly. We’ve all rallied around the needs we see in the community; we made a donation of 10,000 pounds of beef to a nonprofit partner of ours; and we’ve been working to take on a wave of new members, as people either aren’t able to get to a grocery store, or are going and finding that the shelves are clear.”
Not so at Walden Local Meat. Their supply chains have been unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and old and new members alike are able to enjoy their monthly, highly customizable shares of the highest quality meats on the market. Delivery remains free, sustainable, and available all the way from Portland Maine to Central New Jersey, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and large swathes of Long Island. To further ensure the safety of their members and employees during this crisis, they’ve even introduced contactless deliveries.
But unlike at so many other organizations, this continued service will not come at Walden Local Meat employees’ expense. Instead, Cummings and his team are offering team-supported leave to workers who want to quarantine themselves, and extended benefits to all employees who are currently working.
This holistic approach stretches throughout the company’s entire operations: from the animals their farmers raise, to the way they treat their workers, to even how they give back to the community. Each month, on behalf of their members, Walden Local Meat donates 1% of the volume of their member program to local charities who provide meals to food-insecure families, including Second Chance Foods in Fishkill, New York, Food Link in Arlington, Massachusetts and the Greater Boston Food Bank in Boston, Massachusetts.
Why? Because Cummings believes that high quality protein should be accessible to everyone—even at times when people can’t afford it, or are unable to leave the house.
“It’s definitely been invigorating over the past couple of days,” says Cummings. “Again, we went from thinking we should close our doors to opening them up even wider. So this is really our moment, our time to serve. It’s all starting to sink in. Our crew is the best in the world at what we do—and everyone has risen to the challenge with Herculean efforts to keep our trucks moving each day, from the folks cutting and packaging, to our inventory crew, to our drivers on the road. I have never been prouder to work with this group of people.”
And Walden Local Meat members have never been more thankful for their service.
For more on Walden Local Meat Co., or to become a member, please visit their website.