The Place


Zero Hunger-Zero Waste Hero: Green Urban Lunchbox

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jul 09, 2019

Local non-profit Green Urban Lunchbox started with a bus converted into a mobile greenhouse, and now has more than three acres of sustainably farmed land in Salt Lake City, and more than 40 community gardens across Utah!

Founder Shawn Peterson is a sixth generation farmer who's been growing food his whole life. He successfully rehabbed the non-profit's (quite industrial) plot of land into a flourishing farm, and for the past nine years, has been sharing its harvest with the community.

"The majority of this produce goes to four farmers markets that we do with IHC at their cancer centers, so the produce is free for patients who have cancer," says Peterson. "Cancer is this all consuming event; then you're told you should also eat really healthy. You have all these medical bills and then you have to pay those, so you don't have time to cook or go to the store."

So Green Urban Lunch Box is right there on-campus, so patients come in to get treatment and just take that food home with them.

Then there's the Back Farms program, which bridges the hunger - and generational - gap.

"We have 40 gardens scattered around Salt Lake and they're all in seniors' backyards," says Peterson. "Those seniors get access to that fresh produce but also they get this chance to interact with the younger generation because we pair a young volunteer in their garden, who not only learns to organic-garden but also gets to share stories and learn from this senior who has this huge wealth of experience - then all that produce goes to free farmers markets at senior centers."

And if you ever find your fruit trees heavy with ripe fruit that's about to spoil, tell Green Urban Lunchbox! Volunteers with their FruitShare program collect the fruit and give some to you, and some to those in need!

Besides feeding the community, Shawn also wants to teach its members to be stewards of the Earth.

He runs gardener and farmer training programs for the public, teaching eco-friendly practices like "no-till" agriculture. That's where, instead of tearing up the soil, he transplants already-started plants into the ground exactly as it is.

He says this method preserves the soil's microbiology, allowing it to sop up Utah's greenhouse gases.

"It acts as a carbon sink, helping to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil," he says. "There are estimates that if everyone moved to no-till agriculture, [our soil ] would completely sink all of the greenhouse gases in the US."

So because this father of two is so dedicated to sustainable practices, and working so tirelessly to end hunger, Fox13 teamed up with Smith's Food and Drug to award the Green Urban Lunchbox with this month's Zero Hunger-Zero Waste Hero award.

"Shawn, we know it can be overwhelming to find resources to help end hunger but you have been innovative and shown that small actions can make a big impact," said Martindale. "So we would like to honor you and the Green Urban Lunchbox in partnership with Smith's and Fox13."

Find more about the Green Urban Lunchbox and their programs here.