Location: Vineland, N.J.
Harry Behrens, a network engineer at Comcast (No. 43), was sitting in his living room in rural New Jersey in 2009 when he saw an old woman walking down the street struggling to carry her grocery bags. When Behrens went outside to offer her a ride, she accepted gratefully, and he began giving her regular lifts to the grocery store and back. Behrens soon learned that his neighbor was on food stamps and struggled to afford fresh produce. “I said, ‘Let’s start a little garden out back,’ to give her some produce and us some produce. That’s all I had intentions of.” He mentioned his project to a friend at church who began giving him plants—1,000 pepper plants, 800 heads of lettuce, cantaloupe, watermelon—that would have otherwise been thrown away. When the produce came to harvest, Behrens had such an abundance that he and his friends loaded up their pick-up trucks and drove into poor areas of the surrounding towns, handing out the fresh fruits and vegetables from the backs of their vehicles.
That experience led him to found Impact Harvest in May 2011, an operation that now spans two farms, a food bank, and a distribution center that packages over 120 bags of produce each week during harvest season. Volunteers, many of whom are the organization’s beneficiaries, help with planting, harvesting and delivering the food. Last year, Impact Harvest gave away $25,000 worth of produce. “It’s God’s heart for people,” Behrens says. “Our mission statement is to love your neighbor as yourself.”