Creating healthy food options

Sarah Steinbrunner’s scholarships gave her time for academic and personal growth.

Ohio State student Sarah Steinbrunner
Sarah Steinbrunner

Sarah Steinbrunner ’19 simply wanted to help people.

When she began studying food science within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), Steinbrunner’s goal was to eventually create more healthful foods. She didn’t realize she’d be doing that before she even left Ohio State’s campus.

But she did, inventing Beannut Butter, now Yippea! — an allergen-free alternative to peanut butter made from chickpeas — and starting her own business, Banzo Foods.

Steinbrunner was able to balance being a student and an entrepreneur because of scholarships.

“I was very fortunate,” Steinbrunner said. “I wanted to focus my time on my academic and personal growth through college. I was concerned about having a job and being a full-time student. So the generosity of those scholarships was huge for me.”

Steinbrunner’s scholarships through CFAES included the Wilbur Waight Canaga Memorial Fund, the Shelby County Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund, the Wayne E. and Mildred K. Smith Endowment Fund and the Velvet Ice Cream Company and Dager Family Scholarship in Food Science and Technology, to name a few.

In March 2018, Steinbrunner, then a junior, and her boyfriend, Taylor Crooks — an Ohio University alumnus — started Banzo Foods and in July, Beannut Butter was a winner of the Ohio Signature Food Contest, a competition held by the Center for Innovative Food Technology.  

“Coming into college, I never thought I’d be capable of starting my own business,” said Steinbrunner, who is an associate scientist in the nutrition division of Abbott Laboratories while she continues to develop Banzo Foods. “Ohio State provided so many resources and so much knowledge that it’s really prepared me for anything I want to pursue.”