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Student-founded frozen food company is heating up

The startup was founded by three UNC students in September 2013 and is already stocked in local food stores, such as Weaver Street Market and the Durham Co-op Market.

Seal the Seasons uses Grade A produce to promote their mission of supporting small local farmers, make local food available to consumers and end hunger.

Seal the Seasons co-founder Daniella Uslan said her inspiration for starting the company came from the Millennial Trains Project led by Alice Ammerman, a nutrition professor at UNC. She and other students traveled across the country learning about sustainability and food waste.

“I had an idea that I wanted to do about food waste and entrepreneurship,” said Uslan. “(At the Millennial Trains Project) I discovered the idea of freezing produce that would otherwise be lost to prevent spoilage.”

Although she still owns a portion of Seal the Seasons, Uslan said she is no longer involved in its operations as a startup company.

Seal the Seasons co-founder Patrick Mateer currently serves as CEO of the company.

“I saw a big need here for people to eat healthier food and for farmers to sell their food,” Mateer said.

Seal the Seasons won the 2015 SECU Emerging Issue Prize for Innovation — a $50,000 award.

“We used (the money) to launch the company. We used it to buy produce and bags to sell the food,” Mateer said.

Mateer said the company would like to continue to grow its impact on the local community this year.

“We’d like to expand to even more grocery stores in the state,” he said.

Seal the Seasons works with 15 local farmers selling frozen blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, broccoli and spinach.

Mateer said the produce from Seal the Seasons is priced similarly to other brands of frozen produce carried in grocery stores.

“In 2016, we plan to work with an additional 15 farmers, who will grow on an estimated 50 acres, and (hire) an additional 10 employees,” said Daniel Woldorff, marketing and sales coordinator for Seal the Seasons.

Once the company becomes profitable, it plans to donate a portion of the money back to nonprofits fighting hunger in North Carolina.

“The other pillar of our mission is supporting food security in our communities,” Woldorff said.

“We intend to use our resources — make healthy, affordable food more accessible to all.”

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