Impact

We take a multi-layered approach to address food and climate justice. By addressing the various ways that the culture of food insecurity presents itself, these strategies have been proven to benefit children, families and those most in need of aid.

In 2021, we redistributed over 16,000 lbs of produce gleaned by our partner Food Forward, and provided over 1,000 packs of fresh juice to community members in need in Long Beach and Los Angeles, focusing mostly on South Central and communities of displaced residents surviving on the embankments of the LA river.

Fresh Produce

According to Povertyusa.org: “Around 1 in 8 Americans are food insecure.

Food deserts are geographical areas in which residents lack access to affordable, healthy foods. For urban areas, a food desert means that the majority of the population lives over 1 mile away from an affordable grocery store; in rural areas, the distance is 10 miles. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 2.3 million Americans live more than 1 mile away from a grocery store and do not own a car.

Sometimes in urban areas, public transportation helps, but a grocery trip may take several bus or train rides — and many who live in marginalized communities also lack access to public transportation. The term “food desert” also takes into account the affordability of local grocery stores. Oftentimes, grocery stores are present in a low-income community, but unemployment, low-wage jobs, and other factors create conditions that make those stores unaffordable to the surrounding community. “Building a new store does not mean people will shop there; the store has to offer the products, prices, and other characteristics that shoppers value,” according to the USDA.

Due to the lack of access to nutritious foods, people who live in food deserts often rely on fast food and convenience stores for sustenance, putting them at higher risk of diet-related health issues including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and more. These compounding health issues plus a lack of access to affordable healthcare in many of these communities adds even further economic strain on families and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”

We help address and prevent these issues by partnering with Food Forward to provide hundreds of pounds of fresh produce weekly at no cost, with no questions asked, to Los Angeles communities who are living in food deserts. We then connect with local aid groups who have established trust in their neighborhoods and supply resources for them to host free produce giveaways.

For people experiencing food insecurity, access to wholesome and nutritious food is essential. The availability of fresh fruits and vegetables through programs like ours can promote a healthier environment, greater economic resilience, and more equitable communities. Through our efforts and partnership with Food Forward, we provide 200 varieties of vitamin-rich, nutritious produce every year, we reduce food waste, and help build a stronger, healthier and more resilient society.

Fresh Juice

Another aspect of the resources we provide addresses those who are unhoused, who do not have access to kitchens or means to prepare fresh food even when it has been provided for free.

In serving on Skid Row, we discovered that a unique challenge for those experiencing homelessness, in addition to preparing food, is lack of access to dental care which can prevent the ability to consume freshly prepared fruits or vegetables unless they have been cooked down and reduced of all nutrients. To solve this problem we reserve some surplus produce every week for our Community Juice Program. We have connected with the LA Community Fridge network, where we help stock free refrigerators in South LA with juice for those in need nearly every week. Access to fresh pressed fruits and vegetables provides vital nutrition that can not be otherwise attained.

According to Healthline.com, “Juice is an easy way to obtain a lot of nutrients. Many people don’t obtain enough nutrients from their diet alone. One study found that supplementing with mixed fruit and vegetable juice over 14 weeks improved participants’ nutrient levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and folate.

Furthermore, a review of 22 studies found that drinking juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables or blended powder concentrate improved folate and antioxidant levels, including beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.”

Simply put, fresh juice can have a phenomenal impact on the health and wellness of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Our future goal is to have autonomous juice press stations at different aid locations around Los Angeles, where folks can make their own juice as desired, with surplus produce, and compost the food waste into local soil. This infrastructure would provide agency to those who have been systematically excluded from the ability to make or afford fresh juice.

Fruit Tree Seedling Project

According to AmericanForests.org, “Across American cities, there are dramatic disparities in tree canopy that track on economic lines. In most cities, trees grow in areas of money and influence, which means that low-income neighborhoods can have a fraction of the tree canopy found in more affluent areas. As shown in research (synthesized in the Vibrant Cities Lab we created) this lack of tree canopy can negatively impact academic performance, crime rates, personal health, and can even increase illness and death from extreme heat and poor air quality.

The fruit tree seedlings that we grow help address these issues but also go further to provide a generational, biodiverse fresh food source in these neighborhoods, as well as a carbon sequestration source which provides clean air.

Community Garden and Orchard

Studies conducted by University of California have shown that, “urban gardens improve food security.

Growing food in community and home gardens can provide people with more access to fresh vegetables for a healthier food supply. University of California and Santa Clara University researchers surveyed people in San Jose who maintained a garden in their yard or a community garden and found that gardeners consumed more vegetables when they were eating food grown in their gardens.

Participants in the pilot study, published in California Agriculture journal, reported doubling their vegetable intake to a level that met the number of daily servings recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. In addition, by growing their own food, home gardeners saved on average $92 per month and community gardeners saved $84 per month.

One gardener in the La Mesa Verde program told the researchers that without the savings and access to homegrown vegetables, she would have struggled the previous year. Her garden significantly supplemented her diet.”

Our vision is to have a community garden and orchard which will reap its own harvest to be distributed through our programs, but also have nurseries where community members can pick up seedlings of food-bearing plants and trees to plant in their own gardens and on their own property. We believe that empowering people to ‘Grow your own’ is one of the most solid foundations for food security, and is a vital aspect of our efforts to nurture a culture of self-sustaining relationships to each other in community as care givers and providers.

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