OEN NewsBuilding Community through Better-for-You Banana Bread

As neighbors in the freshman dorms at the University of Michigan, Morgan Lerner and Annie Slabotsky bonded over a shared love of food and baking—and a frustration over the lack of healthy baked goods on campus.

“Our only options were Starbucks pastries on the way to class,” Lerner said. “We both grew up eating banana bread and had family recipes, so we decided to combine them and put a healthy twist on them.”

That healthy twist—including swapping out traditional flour for whole grain oat flour and bananas for eggs—soon earned them a loyal following. They started selling ready-made banana bread loaves to foodservice organizations around Ann Arbor, juggling their growing business with college classes. It wasn’t until they graduated and COVID-19 hit that they pivoted and launched their first at-home baking mix.

“Being so fresh out of college, we had to learn a lot as we went,” Lerner said. “For me personally, rising to the occasion of all the pressure that a startup brings was really challenging, asking myself, ‘Can I do this? Am I good enough?’ It’s all learning by doing for the most part. Each day is a new fire to tackle, a new challenge to solve.”

Their company, GoNanas, now offers a variety of better-for-you banana bread mix flavors, from strawberry shortcake banana bread to lemon poppyseed banana bread, salted caramel banana bread, and more. The vegan, gluten- and allergen-free mixes are sold online via their website (https://eatgonanas.com/) as well as in about 3,000 grocery stores across the nation, including many Whole Foods, Target, and Market of Choice locations.

Lerner, who has been based out of Portland for the past three years, is focused on product innovation and community building. The company continues to innovate with various mixes, including cookie mixes and a new breakfast line that will be revealed this summer. GoNanas is also growing its ambassador program, which numbers about 3,000 ambassadors currently, and has an upcoming collaboration with Portland-based Salt & Straw.

“The company’s purpose is to make baking easy and enjoyable for people across the country—we’re the allergen-free option that you can feel better about eating and bring anywhere,” said Lerner, who along with Slabotsky was recently named to Forbes’ 2024 30 Under 30 list.

“But my unique purpose within that is to build community and bring joy through storytelling and the simple acts of baking and sharing food. My goal is to always be creative, push the boundaries and make an impact. I know that if I’m working hard and still passionate and learning every day, good things will come.”


Produced by A.wordsmith for OEN

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