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Taking Action to End Hunger in Philadelphia, One Granola Bar at a Time

John and his brother baking OTbars in kitchen.

January 3, 2020

An alum launches a healthy granola bar business to help individuals facing hunger.

John Marshall, Community Health and Prevention MPH ’19, recently launched OTbar, a Philadelphia-based granola bar business that helps combat hunger in Philadelphia. The bars, made with simple, healthy ingredients, are sold throughout the city and 10 percent of the profits are donated to Philabundance, the region's largest hunger relief organization. “As a Philadelphia region local, it was important for me to take action on the hunger crisis happening right here in our communities,” he says. 

Before pursing an MPH at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), Marshall saw first-hand the impacts of food insecurity on students as a high school teacher in New Orleans. “Students’ basic nutrition needs weren’t being met, which inhibited them from learning in the classroom and thriving,” he says. “Often, students would have to rely on food provided by teachers.” 

After graduating in spring of 2019, Marshall teamed up with his brother Peter to brainstorm ideas for a healthy snack that could give back to the community.

Together, they developed recipes, a business model, branding, and built awareness for the product. Three flavors are currently available: Cherry Almond Vanilla, Oatmeal Raisin, and Peanut Chocolate Chip. OTbars are sold in a growing number of Philadelphia-area stores and are available for online purchase.

Though Marshall initially had the idea for OTbar in 2013, he believes DSPH helped by providing inspiration and unique training. “The Dornsife environment gave me the momentum I needed to start this venture,” he says. “I was equipped with the necessary tools to create public health solutions in novel ways.”

Marshall looks forward to continuing to expand the business with his brother by his side. “Growing up, my brother and I were fortunate to have reliable access to healthy food and we believe everyone deserves that right,” he says. 

Learn more about OTbar