Respect for Produce

Editor’s Choice: Another Report from the October Trip:

Joan Daleo hopes her family owned produce company, Old Tyme Produce, changes lives.

“I want to be a part of something that affect people’s lives,” Daleo said. Her St. Louis-based company does that by hiring the disadvantaged, including ex-convicts.

Her employees receive higher than industry average wages as well as health insurance and a 401k plan.

By providing a living wage, her employees can focus on the work, not worrying about money, Daleo said. This allows them to live a full life. Although she would like her workers to stay with the company forever, she also takes it as sign of her company’s quality that it produces workers capable of moving on.

Many don’t move on. Several have been with the company 15 to 20 years. In the time that someone works for her, Daleo tries to inspire with what she called both “the leadership and the religion.”

The leadership is her own. The religion she spoke of is respect for the produce the company sells.

“They have to realize it is not just a box,” Daleo said.

She takes pride in the quality produce that fills those boxes. That produce is how she affects the people who don’t work for her.

The movement toward locally grown fresh produce drives Daleo’s business planning. Providing healthier food with a smaller carbon footprint is what the market demands.

“If you’re not moving in that direction, you aren’t listening to the customers,” Daleo said.

–Tim Wall


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