We are extremely grateful for the trust and responsibility given to us by our clients. It’s a true honor to be welcomed into their dining rooms. While we try to say thank you every day by providing delicious, nourishing food and great service, during the winter holidays we take the opportunity to say a special thank you.
In the early days, we’d send a physical token of our appreciation — a cookbook, a whisk, a special spice mix. In 2001, we’d planned to send each client a knife engraved with our logo. Then on that fateful day in September America will never forget, tragedy struck. Mailing sharp objects around the country all of a sudden seemed grossly inappropriate.
We decided to take the funds we would’ve spent on the knives and donate them to Windows of Hope, the relief fund set up for the families of food service workers in the World Trade Center. A simple card of thanks was sent to each client. And then thank you cards started coming in for us! Client after client shared how moved they were by the gesture and how much this gift embodied the true spirit of the holidays.
A new tradition was born! Each year, in the name of our clients, we make a donation to a special charity. The two years following 9/11, we built Habitat for Humanity homes for deserving families in St. Paul and Portland. After that, we decided to focus on projects that can help change our food system for the better.
2001: Windows of Hope, to support the families of food service workers lost in the Twin Towers, New York
2002: Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, for a family home, St. Paul, MN
2003: Habitat for Humanity Portland, for a family home, Portland, OR
2004: East New York Farms! for a community garden and youth empowerment program, Brooklyn, NY
2005: Collective Roots Garden Project, to build an outdoor kitchen, East Palo Alto, CA
2006: Earthworks Enterprises, to establish a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and provide 30 families with shares for year-round nourishment, Whittier, CA
2007: New Orleans Food & Farm Network, to create a demonstration urban farm to aid in rebuilding the local food system after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, LA
2008: Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), to educate young people about air and water pollution and introduce them to sustainable agriculture, Duplin County, NC
2009: Cesar Chavez Education Institute, to buy high-quality, high-interest reading materials for 2,500 children in farmworking communities, Tehachapi, CA
2010: Wholesome Wave, to expand the Fruit & Veggie Rx program, through which healthcare providers write “prescriptions” for local produce from farmers’ markets, Dorchester, MA
2011: Farmer-Veteran Coalition, to establish Good Food Fellowships for returning veterans, Sacramento, CA
2012: Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), to provide educational and business opportunities for farmworkers and would-be farmers to grow and sell their own organic crops, Salinas, CA
2013: FoodCorps, to send service members to Boston; Oakland, CA; Portland, OR; Santa Fe, NM; and Wake County, NC; to teach 4,000 kids about healthy eating
2014: To mark the 15th year of our Farm to Fork program, 10 small farms and ranches received grants for infrastructure improvements, nationwide
2015: College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), to assist freshmen students from migrant farmworking families in making a smooth transition to college, Austin, TX
2016: Main Street Project, to create a new model for the humane production of free-range poultry raised by immigrants and other limited-resource farmers, Northfield, MN
2017: Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), to establish the Food Justice & Equity Scholarship Fund for farming apprentices of color, Santa Cruz, CA
2018: World Central Kitchen, to purchase 25 mobile water purification systems to aid in disaster relief, Washington, DC
2019: REBEL VENTURES, FOR A REBEL MOBILE CARGO VAN, PHILADELPHIA
I’m excited to share that Rebel Ventures is our recipient for 2019. This youth-powered nonprofit creates healthy deliciousness for their community, striving to increase access to nutritious, tasty foods for kids and to engage high school students in meaningful entrepreneurial job experiences.
Since launching in 2017, Rebel Ventures has served more than a million Rebel Crumbles (fruit-filled breakfast cakes) to kids in Philadelphia. Each Crumble contains a half-cup of fruit and 16 grams of whole grains. Offering Crumbles in school cafeterias significantly increases kids’ fruit and whole-grain consumption and also means they’re eating fewer less-healthy breakfast options. Through Rebel Ventures’ job-training model, centered on creating, sourcing, producing, and marketing the Crumbles, high school students build technical skills, professional ‘soft’ skills, self-reliance, and cultural capital. Crew members seek out problems to solve, confidently raise their voices, try novel things, and travel to new places.
Since 2016, 100% of Rebel’s graduating seniors have continued on to start college or trade school. Taken together, this youth-driven work — rooted in food education and entrepreneurship — is transforming their community’s culture of health.
Our donation will fund the purchase of a Rebel Mobile cargo van, which will help transport fresh produce, prepared foods, supplies, and the Rebel crew. A gift for the Rebel youth and their community, in the name of our wonderful clients. For that, I am thankful.