I know, as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member, that it can be intimidating when that box of green, orange and purple stuff arrives on my doorstep. I often find myself GOOGLeing around just to identify those oddly gnarled, rooty things. Or that stuff that looks just like a weed that I would hack out of my grass, should I really EAT that? I ask simple questions like
So, we are going to host a Facebook Live cooking show. Each week, we will identify the items, explain their taste, demonstrate some quick cooking techniques, feature a dish or two, and talk about the nutritional value of each item. We will show people how to substitute, maximize the flavors, minimize the complain from our kids and demystify all of the greens, the purples and the weedy lookin' stuff. STEPsocal suggested that if we do this, not only are we helping feed today, but we will be helping people understand that fresh and different are not scary.
And as we move this forward, we will invite some of our families to show US how to cook these things. People are ingenious when it comes to food, and we can want to build a community around our common goals.
Erika Barner, our Director of Events & Fundraising went with me on Monday to visit the San Diego office of STEPsocal. They are an organization focused on helping junior military stationed in Southern California. A snippet from their website is shown below and describes the STEP mission.
STEP assists junior active duty enlisted members and recently discharged enlisted veterans and their families in Southern California facing financial crisis achieve long term financial self-sufficiency through counseling, educations and grants to alleviate critical near term obligations.
We met with Tony Teravainen, President & CEO and Kathi Bradshaw, Vice President. We talked about our backgrounds, corporate missions and personal hopes. I found myself agreeing, saying "of course" and being awed at their compassion, drive and commitment to serve those that are serving our country. Erika shared a personal story that described the significant societal rewards of believing that everyone has unlimited potential and treating them in exactly that way.
We talked though ideas on how we might work together to end the number one issue that affects our enlisted citizen-patriots; hunger. The issue of hunger and poor nutrition is undeniable and pervasive within the junior ranks of our military. We are hopeful, though. And our new friends agreed that Produce for Patriots can have a positive impact on the lives and health of our in-need military families.
Tony and Kathi gave Erika and I some great ideas that we are busy implementing; they gave us contacts that we are following up and they gave us motivation and encouragement that we will use every day.
I hope that we will connect with the STEP team again as we expand the outreach of Produce For Patriots.
Our application for non-profit status was approved by the IRS. I received this today... DAY 1 of the 2018 government shutdown. WHEW! It was mailed on Thursday, the day before the shutdown. We have been waiting for this for several months and can now begin fundraising and canvassing in earnest. Many thanks to all of the team that have held together as we waited for this news.
As Produce for Patriot’s Chief Technology Officer, I traveled to San Diego from my hometown in Northern Kentucky in order to meet the devoted officers, volunteers, and farmers who are working to bring our mission into fruition. During my week-long stay, we accomplished a lot, including filing the paperwork to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit and visiting two of our potential farm affiliates. Visiting local organic farmers that have dedicated their time and resources to help military families was inspiring. As we walked through Seabreeze farm, we sampled cucumbers and beans, plucked straight from the ground. They were delicious and fresh-the perfect produce to be delivered to the families of those who served our country.
The justification and mission for Produce for Patriots can be summed up in one thank-you note that we received from one of our benefiting families.
It read, “Thank you so much for the donated food. We can’t tell you how much of a blessing this is to our family. This month is my son’s birthday. Because of this, I can afford to do a small party and will be able to still eat well the rest of the month. Thank you. Thank you!”. After reading it, Rob turned to me, pointed at it, and said “That’s why we do what we do”. I couldn’t agree more.
Cat Meadows, CTO
I have a friend who's married to a naval officer. A few weeks ago she came into our office; she was crying. She had just been to a meeting where local aid agencies were providing information to both active duty and retired military personnel and their families. The meeting was prompted by chatter coming from Washington, DC that suggested that a full government shutdown was "on the table." If the government shuts down, she said, paychecks for the military stop. She explained further that although they would not be paid, everyone would still be required to perform their duties of their uniforms.
Our friend explained that she was not upset for herself, she had a good job, but she was fearful for those families that had no safety net. Families with children, she explained, would be the hardest hit.
This, as it should any reasonable person, really upset me. I began investigating how I could help. First, I called our local Food Bank. Thankfully, they have a program that supports military families specifically. During that call I signed up for a recurring monthly financial donation.
But, my small donation is not, and would not be, enough. With 32,000 hungry military personnel and family members here in San Diego, the food bank can not reach them all. And, when they do, there is a clear lack of freshly picked, unprocessed vegetables, eggs and fruit; all of which are extremely nutritious but delicate and perishable.
There must be a way t do this, I thought.
Rob Meadows, Fonder and CEO
As I sit here in my home office writing computer code in my pajamas, I am comfortable and content. Outside my front door is a paper shopping bag full of just harvested tomatoes, kale, strawberries, eggs, carrots, apples and other delicious stuff. Satisfying, healthy meals are just waiting for me; literally, a few steps away.
In the background, the news in on. Some blah blah blah about slashing federal budgets, killing healthcare to fuel a tax cut for billionaires, lefty-stuff, righty-stuff....I don't hear a single word about us - we the people...
Then I remember Erika and her hard working patriotic parents, family and friends. Patriotic Americans of every color worried about their next meal because of cronyism and politicians that have never skipped a meal or a handout from a lobbyist or PAC..
"Ok," I mutter,"That's all the we the people I need."
They are scientists, grade school teachers, military personnel past AND present, workers, entrepreneurs, students. And some of them, no matter how they pinch pennies, clip coupons and work within the rules, are often hungry or face impossible decisions .
That's bullshit - truly 3'rd world kind of crap.
It's time to do something.
I'm just back from a tour of a local, family owned farm here in San Diego. What a delight! My young daughter and I walked around with the owner, picking off some berries, pulling up a carrot or two, slurping down a tangerine fresh from the tree. Amazing!
Our host said "Let's say hello to the ladies, " and off we went down a little slope and over a bump. There they were; the ladies.
Along with the hens, we came up on a beautiful nubian goat and a sheep. They both rushed to the fence to greet us. Our host pulled a couple of oranges off of a nearby tree and handed them to my daughter...
"Yes!" she said. "Go ahead Abby, they love oranges..."
My daughter looked scared. I held my hand under hers as she offered the orange to the goat who gently nibbled it out of her hand. We all started laughing.
The sheep bleated - "what about me?"
After anther orange, we headed off to pick strawberries, basal and wild mulberries. What a treat. As we headed back to the farmhouse, our host and I started talking.....