A chat with UNC’s Head of Work-Life Wellness

The Produce Box at UNC Chapel Hill

This summer, The Produce Box linked arms with UNC Chapel Hill’s Human Resources Office to offer our weekly menu boxes to faculty and staff as part of the university’s resources package for employees. We teamed up with the HR department’s employee wellness program to encourage faculty and staff to pursue a healthy lifestyle and manage work-life balance.

The head of the program, Jessica Pyjas, reached out to us earlier this year with the idea to expand our services to UNC Chapel Hill’s employee base. Now, four months and counting, the partnership has been fruitful for both sides of the table. We’ve welcomed almost 150 UNC-CH faculty and staff to The Produce Box family of members with over a dozen delivery hubs on and off campus as well as many home deliveries! 

In timing with this growth, we sat down with Jessica to get her perspective on our partnership.

Tell us about what you do at UNC. What made you reach out to The Produce Box? What about our mission fit into your goals at UNC?

The work-life wellness motto at UNC Chapel Hill is “Total WellBeing: Head, Heart and Heels.” This includes programs around mindfulness, work-life balance, Tai Chi and mindful yoga, free physical fitness classes every Thursday, Weight Watchers classes three times a week and financial wellness courses several times a month. My position here is to offer employees work-life wellness opportunities they can use at their workplace. I actually first heard about The Produce Box at my last position prior to joining UNC last October. I wanted to make it easier for people to support local farmers and have access to fruits and vegetables, and so I reached out to The Produce Box to see if they could bring the service to UNC.

UNC Chapel Hill, more broadly, wants to continue supporting healthy diet and healthy lifestyle. The larger initiative is to make UNC Chapel Hill a healthier campus.

UNC Harvest Box

How is the partnership going so far?

We established the delivery locations in June and then promoted throughout July. Through the Produce Box, we waived the membership fee for July and now to the end of October. We now have 13 locations across campus offering the service. We have off-campus delivery hubs as well, including our Human Resources Office and one of the off-campus Pharmacy School offices. The Produce Box exposes faculty and staff to easy and healthy meal choices. With the ease of having fresh produce delivered straight to their worksite or home, it’s very convenient and flexible. And it’s such a good bargain. Everything looks delicious at such a low cost. Another great feature is that members have the option to skip a week if it’s not in their budget.

How do you see your relationship with The Produce Box continuing in the future?

This partnership is not something we’re going to start up and leave alone. It’s an easy, seamless partnership. Whenever there’s a large event, we invite The Produce Box to come and promote the product. There are tasting sessions where different university buildings can try samples and participate in the program. We recently had a UNC employee expo last week which attracted around 3,000 people. The Produce Box was there with a well-attended table handing out samples to people.

This has been a very healthy partnership. We’re hoping to grow the program to get even more buildings on campus to serve as delivery hubs in the future!

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UNC Chapel Hill is one of several organizations and companies that have partnered with The Produce Box to bring our delivery service to their employees. To learn more about how we can work with your company, contact Jerilyn Paolino.

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