On any other day, Corner Juice is a hot spot for University students to get their daily nutritional support via smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy options. While students have mostly left Grounds and social distancing policies are in full effect in the Commonwealth, Corner Juice remains committed to serving the Charlottesville community.
Co-owners Julie Nozet and Joseph Linzon created a University Hospital juice donation drive at the beginning of April as a way to give back to their community and to support University doctors and staff members who continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
For every $5 donated, one immune-boosting juice will be given to a University hospital employee. Moreover, Corner Juice pledges to donate 20 bottles of juice with every $200 worth of donations. The juice donation drive will remain open indefinitely as Corner Juice is committed to providing bi-weekly juice drop offs.
To donate, Corner Juice has added a page on its website where contributors can make an impact by simply clicking the “Donate Juice” button.
Though the donation drive has only been open for a few days, Nozet and Linzon were already able to donate their first box of juices. The total donation amount feature stated that Corner Juice had donated $372 worth of juices on April 5. In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Linzon said that the feature has recently been turned off because “it wasn’t an accurate representation of the tremendous support that the community has shown.”
In an effort to stay financially afloat and offer a safe environment for customers, Linzon and Nozet have adjusted their business model to only provide contactless services such as curbside pickup and delivery via Vespa.
“We are staying open because we really believe that people need this type of food in order to get through this pandemic,” Linzon said. “We thought why not bring the community together and find a way to really make an impact on those who are doing so much right now.”
After receiving feedback and suggestions from its customers, Corner Juice has even added an essentials kit to its online menu. These kits serve as a to-go grocery service for individuals either with minimal time to grocery shopping or those struggling to find fresh fruits and veggies elsewhere. Customers can purchase a 10-pound box of fruits and vegetables to keep their families well-nourished. Each box costs $45 and contains an assortment of nutritious items such as spinach, kale, apples, avocados, blueberries and more.
“We essentially had to pivot and figure out how we can still keep providing these immune boosting foods without compromising our operation,” Linzon said.
Currently, a large percentage of their customers are hospital employees, who work long, grueling shifts every day. These employees have minimal free time to grocery shop and some found Corner Juice’s essential kits and juices to be an easy solution.
In addition to Corner Juice’s commitment to preserve the health and well-being of the Charlottesville community, Nozet and Linzon wanted to go a step further to support not only University doctors but also the night staff and cleaning crew that continue to work in the hospital.
“We really want to target the people who work in the hospital who can’t really afford juice,” Nozet said. “We wanted to get this juice to those who are exposed to the same kind of risks, but don’t necessarily have the means to buy immune boosting foods.”
As the first recipient of the juice donation, physician assistant Samuel Beishline, along with Nozet and Linzon, thought it was best to distribute the box of juices to those employees in need of an immune boost. While there are many departments that keep the hospital running, Beishline decided to hand the first donation of juices over to the Hospital Environmental Service workers, who do custodial work for the University Health System.
“[Corner Juice] was so generous and kind to donate to the EVS team,” EVS employee Erin Pearson said. “We are working hard to support the hospital and having a fresh pressed juice to get a quick refresh was just what we needed.”
Moving forward, Nozet and Linzon plan to continue their philanthropic work by reaching out to low-income families in Charlottesville. They hope to provide grocery bags filled with a variety of immune-boosting foods that community members may not otherwise receive.
In addition, Corner Juice plans to incorporate the delivery and pickup service into its business model on a more permanent basis. With a Corner Juice app on its way, Nozet and Linzon are excited about these added features.
“The more positive things that we have seen come out of this is being able to focus on our delivery service, food safety and just health,” Nozet said.