Last week I sat down with our purchasing manager, Jared Jaggers, to find out a little more about him, his role at Gourmet Gorilla, and how he works with Gourmet Gorilla’s mission to source sustainable ingredients for all of the meals we create each day.
DS: How long have you been working at Gourmet Gorilla?
JJ: 5 years!
And what is your official Title?
Tell us a little about yourself; What led you to working to Gourmet Gorilla, and this position in particular?
I have a background in Environmental Studies and Biology. I was working for a private Ecological Landscaping company before working at Gourmet Gorilla, and one of my co-workers left the company to start working here. He later referred me to an open position in inventory and I left the Ecological Landscaping company to begin working here. I moved around in the company a bit, later working in a logistics management position, at that time we had about 10 trucks, 10 drivers, and 100 schools. When the purchasing manager position opened up, I wanted to move into that position. I am more of a numbers person anyway, so that position appealed to me more than the logistics manager. I wanted to be more focused on the kitchen side of things and already had the background knowledge from working in inventory. I have been doing purchasing now for about 4 years.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to play video games and I try and be in a sport team; In the summer it’s volleyball or kickball, and I’m about to join a soccer team. Basically hanging out and relaxing with my wife and my cat, Lion-O.
What policies and standards does Gourmet Gorilla have around purchasing?
We are looking through every ingredient of everything we buy and try to keep everything as clean as possible.There are some ingredients we just don’t allow, like tree nuts, peanuts, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors or flavor, trans fat, and GMOs for instance. We keep our products at least 70% local and organic and avoid GMO when possible. I work closely with our staff dietitians when selecting items.
What are the benefits and difficulties of sourcing products and ingredients in the Midwest?
There is a lot of protein and dairy agriculture in the Midwest; We get our turkey from Michigan, chicken from Missouri, our drumsticks are from a small Amish farm in Indiana. We source our milk from Sassy Cow farm in Wisconsin.
There is a large variety of produce available during our growing season and there is an increasing amount of organic produce that is available in the Midwest. However, there are produce items we simply can’t source locally, like lemons or pineapple.
Sourcing the right quantity of local and small batch product can be difficult. It’s doable, it just takes a lot of work and communication with the vendor. Smaller producers need more time to prepare for a large order, like Country View Dairy in Iowa who we source our yogurt from, you can’t just let them know you need something for the next day, you need to give them a few weeks notice.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?
Our newest waste reduction efforts. NSLP (National School Lunch Program) schools are now able to order in a new way that is specified by component, which will lead to less waste. The severs at those schools know what the kids like and don’t like, and allowing servers to control the orders on this level will help reduce their food waste and we will not be ordering food that isn’t consumed by students.
What is your favorite part of working at Gourmet Gorilla?
The people. I am lucky to work with a lot of dedicated people who work so hard to get healthy food out the door everyday.
*This blog post was brought to you by Davin Steiger, Client Account Representative