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Healthy oats help feed hungry

Nick Murto and Tyler Lafferty, owners of Method Juice Café in downtown Spokane, designed Good Oats.
Nick Murto and Tyler Lafferty, owners of Method Juice Café in downtown Spokane, designed Good Oats.

Breakfast product benefits customers, helps stock food bank

Nick Murto began making his own oatmeal a few years ago as part of a diet makeover. The change propelled him to look for ways to find fresh oatmeal at food shops when he didn’t have time for breakfast at home.

Murto, 42, is co-founder of Seven2, a Spokane interactive communications agency. He credits his focus on healthy food with helping him manage a hectic schedule, which includes starting two side businesses – the Method Juice Café in downtown Spokane and Passenger Pets, a pet photo company.

Sometime last year a new entrepreneurial idea came over him while reading the book “Start Something That Matters.” Murto and Seven2 co-founder Tyler Lafferty took the challenge and decided to start a breakfast oatmeal product, Good Oats.

Costing $3, it’s a quick oatmeal that comes in 2.4 ounce containers with fewer than 300 calories. It largely follows Murto’s own home recipe, offering rolled oats, oat bran, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, pure maple syrup crystals, and other dried fruits.

To prepare it, customers just add hot water to the package and replace the lid for three minutes until it is ready to eat. There is no refined sugar in Good Oats, so the label says “no sugar added” but maple syrup crystals and dried fruit account for the 15 grams of sugar in the final product.

The product is available at Method Juice Café, 718 W. Riverside Ave. Murto hopes to find other retailers who will carry the item.

For each package of Good Oats sold, Murto and Lafferty are donating a second Good Oats container to Second Harvest, Spokane’s food bank. The food bank will add Good Oats to roughly 900 food boxes that are delivered monthly to four area schools for student meals.

The $3 covers the cost of the ingredients, the packaging and mixing the items into containers.

Murto said the biggest factor in making the costs pencil out came from Spokane’s Ross Printing.

“I contacted them about printing the labels and they offered to cover half of the printing costs, which made it affordable for us to produce Good Oats,” Murto said.

The main goal behind Good Oats was to cover their costs and make sure customers find a product that delivers good value, Murto added. One of the labor-saving solutions, he said, was to be part of the direct production. “So far, everything we’ve done with Good Oats has been made by hand by me or by Tyler,” Murto said.

If the product continues gaining support, Murto and Lafferty would look for a way to distribute Good Oats nationally.