Growing Together teaches gardening and nutrition, plants trees, greens schoolyards, and connects students with nature in the Oakland Unified Schools District (OUSD).
Last school year, we were also running produce stands at three OUSD schools – bringing fresh food to our families and giving our students hands-on lessons in financial literacy and entrepreneurship. With help from our school communities, Mandela Partners produce distributors, and our donors including the Numi Foundation and Clorox, these produce stands were a great success. We sold approximately 1,000 pounds of fresh produce every week and our kids and families loved the stands.
After the pandemic hit in March of 2020, schools were closed, and many people began to lose their jobs. Like many other organizations, we quickly realized that our students, families, and even the farmers we had been working with, were going to need support throughout this time. We decided to come together as a community to connect local farmers with families who needed fresh food. We started by working with our three original schools and Mandela Partners, with support from the Clorox Foundation, to deliver fresh produce to 200 families in Oakland.
In partnership with the Numi Foundation, we added an additional supplier, Pacific Rim Produce, and expanded the service. We were then given generous donations from the Salesforce Foundation, Eat Learn Play Foundation, and the TomKat Foundation. That enabled us to partner further with OUSD and expand our program from 400 families a week to 3,200 families a week over the summer. We were also able to support our community by purchasing from several local organic and sustainable farms owned by women and people of color, and hiring more OUSD family members to pack and deliver the food.
We expanded our produce procurement as well, working with Full Harvest to order from Epic Farmshop, Asian Business Institute and Resource Center, and more. From mid-April to mid-August we delivered 263,452 pounds of fresh produce! Since the 2020 – 2021 school year started, Growing Together has been working with OUSD to deliver free and reduced lunches to our families, as well as produce boxes purchased from Coke Farms with support from SalesForce Foundation and Eat Learn Play. We now deliver to over 6,000 families a week, and have over 35 parents hired at a good wage ($35/hr) to pack and delivery food.
In order for us to make this initiative long-term and sustainable, we are now restructuring as Farms to Communities and transitioning to a mutual aid approach that allows everyone in Oakland to get involved and become part of the solution.
Please sign up for delivery of fresh produce to your door, and support your community!
Thank you so much,
Farms to Communities & the Growing Together Team