Reflecting on $5 for Fresh Food

Our first campaign, $5 for Fresh Food, that kicked off just over a month ago on December 1st, otherwise known as “Giving Tuesday” was a massive success. We quickly eclipsed our first goal of $2,500 so we doubled it and moved our goal to $5,000. We thought the first goal was lofty, but after an incredible outpouring of support we decided to be bold. Though we did not quite hit our goal of $5,000 for the month of December, all in all in 2020 we raised almost $8,000.

A small part of this money went to paying for insurance, applying for a 501(c)3 from the IRS, and setting up our website and accounting software. Those necessities required for running any kind of business, even one that is not for profit, gave us a great opportunity to learn how to run an organization. While it is never fun to spend any money that is not directly on programming, the money we did need to commit to our organization and structure were well worth it. Despite needing to make some one time purchases and pay some annual fees, over $7,000 of the almost $8,000 raised will go directly to getting food into the hands of people who need it most. It was so important to set up organized programming and ensure that as an organization we are conducting ourselves in a manner that is consistent with how successful and well-supported entities operate. Now that much of that is behind us even more of our funds raised can go to getting food to people.

So what comes next? Grow Jackson is in the process of establishing our first program, “Fresh Food Distribution”. Through cooperative partnerships with local partners Grow Jackson will regularly rescue food from being thrown away and immediately get the food to organizations who can distribute it or get it to people directly. Now more than ever our response as a community needs to be robust and direct in the face of growing community food insecurity as a result of the economic effects of Covid 19. We are finalizing the last logistical challenges, and are still in search of reliable transportation for Grow Jackson to use but we are almost ready to start moving food. Our ability to get access to a truck with a trailer or a van will help us immensely so if you or anyone you know is willing to part with a reliable one for little to not cost to help an extremely worthwhile cause please be sure to contact us.

We have some big goals for 2021 including implementing at least two new community gardens in Jackson as well as assisting with other gardens operated by local partner organizations. The future is bright, but the need is great. If you supported us in 2020, I want to say “Thank You” on behalf of the entire board. Your support inspires us every day and with your help we can rise to the challenge ahead of us. Meeting the basic needs of everyone in our community, especially those who are most vulnerable, takes many organizations and passions and still we fall short. However, with your continued support we will continue to work to ensure that fewer and fewer people fall through the cracks. The Grow Jackson Mission Statement starts, “To end food insecurity for Jackson residents…”. We all know that is a lofty goal. Reaching zero hungry people in Jackson may feel like a difficult or impossible goal. It will be hard. However, we also know that it is a worthy goal and we believe that access to fresh healthy food is a human right. For all the ways you have supported that work, and supported the efforts we make to strive towards a community where food insecurity is a distant memory, I want to again say thank you.

If you donated last year and have decided that you would like to donate to our mission on a recurring monthly basis that option can be found on our Donate option on our homepage. Simply select an amount or enter one of your own, and then check the “Make It Monthly” box and you will support the efforts of Grow Jackson in the future. If you are interested in supporting us with a one time gift to start the year that option is also available by mailing a check to our office or donation at the same link.

We are grateful, we are passionate, and we are inspired to keep going. On behalf to the entire Grow Jackson Board of Directors I want to say thank you and Happy New Year. There is much to be done in 2021 and we cannot wait to get started.

-Jacob Inosencio, Board President

$5 for Fresh Food Success

Grow Jackson’s first-ever campaign, “$5 for Fresh Food” had an overwhelming amount of success in our first week! We already blew past the original December goal of $2,500 and have decided to stay ambitious and expand our fundraising efforts through the rest of the month. The generous support of dozens of Grow Jackson donors has encouraged us and inspired us to expand our efforts to get even more people involved. At this time we are moving our new goal to $5,000. We are still eager to find 500 individual donors who believe in our mission and want to support the work we are doing.

We are close to beginning the operation of our first program, Fresh Food Distribution. This program will exist to save food that is still good but for one reason or another, stores must throw away. Instead of that food ultimately ending up in landfills, our efforts will make sure there is an opportunity for that food to still nourish someone. This saved food will then be cleaned, bagged, and quickly transported to food banks and organizations Grow Jackson partners with. This program will help get fresh food into the community in places that might have previously not had fresh food as an option.

Our efforts would not be possible without the support of an incredible community. At this time we are in search of volunteers to help do this work. We would love to partner with students and young people to help power these efforts. Grow Jackson knows that this year looks a little bit different for students, but for those who still might be interested in service hours this is a great opportunity. Any interested future members of the Grow Jackson team should contact us by going to “Volunteer” under the get involved tab.

As an organization, Grow Jackson is learning a lot. Our application for tax-exemption will be complete soon and we expect to be a tax-exempt organization starting in 2021. We are working hard to expand our board as well. This process involves getting the right people at the table so we can make decisions as a group while considering a multitude of perspectives and ideas. Diversity of lived experiences, education, gender, and race make any organization stronger. Social Justice and Racial Justice are two values Grow Jackson tries to live out every day. That belief starts with our Board of Directors we are working hard to find people who believe in Jackson, believe in the mission of Grow Jackson, and want to make the community a better place.

Grow Jackson is trying to make connections with as many nonprofit and government organizations as well as community leaders as we can. One of Grow Jackson’s values is “Authentic Community Partnerships”. We strive to live out that value as an organization by meeting with people who can give us resources and share their perspectives. This allows us to work every day to be an equitable community-focused organization that is actually meeting the needs of the people we serve.

-Jacob Inosencio, Board President

$5 for Fresh Food Campaign on Giving Tuesday

Starting today on “Giving Tuesday”, and ending on December 31st, this Grow Jackson campaign can be found on the campaign tab under “Get Involved”. If you are thinking of giving to a charity this year and have not finalized your plan, please consider Grow Jackson.

This campaign supports our operation costs and helps to establish our first program, Fresh Food Distribution. In the Fresh Food Distribution Program, Grow Jackson will rescue food that would otherwise be thrown away, and distribute it to people in need of more access to fruits and vegetables. More information about this process can be found under our tab “Food Programs”. Our goal for this campaign is 500 individual donors, and we hope you will consider being one of them. Additionally, we hope, whether you can financially contribute to Grow Jackson or not, you will share our mission with those close to you who also may be interested in giving back.

The goal of Grow Jackson every day, is to move our community closer to a reality where no one faces food insecurity. To help us on that mission, contributing $5 goes a very long way. We are running this campaign through the end of the year and would be honored if you would join us in this effort.

-Jacob Inosencio, Board President

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of abundance, and a time of celebration for all we are grateful for. Before I reflect on the long list of reasons we feel so thankful this year, Grow Jackson wants to acknowledge our history. While we know that none of us personally were a part of erasing indigenous heritage and rights to the space we live in, it is important that we recognize this uncomfortable aspect of history so all people can work towards a more just and secure future for everyone.

Our community is on the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe (A-nish-a-na-bae) people. This nation is comprised of, at least here, the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Odawa peoples who are unified as Anishinaabe by many cultural practices, beliefs, and their spoken language. For centuries, they were stewards of the lands we now live on. Grow Jackson is committed to centering indigenous recognition. We acknowledge that we ourselves were not indigenous to this land. However, we too are committed to caring for the Earth and being good stewards of all that she provides, meaning we want to implement many of the same beliefs into our programs about useful agriculture and the power of an abundant food system.

This year we are grateful to have incorporated, received our first donation, and made so many wonderful connections. We met mentors, collaborators, and supporters and without them, none of what we do would be possible. In this season of abundance, we remember why we started this work and why we believe so strongly in the mission of Grow Jackson. Many of our neighbors do not experience abundance, and many more do not experience abundance with nourishing food that is fresh and healthy.

Our secretary Jack on what he is grateful for, “This year more than ever, I am thankful for the good health of my friends, family, and everybody I see day-to-day. With what seems like turmoil going on in every avenue of life, I am thankful that I have been able to continue my education and retain a job with only minor setbacks. As a pandemic ravages our country and hunger rises at a rate never seen in my lifetime, I am thankful that I can enjoy a meal every day and that people are working to ensure that those struggling will get that simple right too.”

While we know there is much work to be done, at Grow Jackson we are grateful to have the chance to engage in work we believe in. We are lucky to have the opportunity to be in Jackson. We are thankful for all of you.

-Jacob Inosencio, Board President

Grow Jackson So Far

Grow Jackson is only a few weeks old now. We officially incorporated on October 30th. We have learned A LOT about board governance and what it means to run a nonprofit. With that being said we have an incredible group of community members and partners who are valuable resources for information, networking opportunities, and mentoring.

We are making connections, filing forms, opening accounts, and working together as a board to establish a solid foundation so we can go into 2021 ready to implement our programming goals; Food Distribution and Community Gardens. We have already built incredible relationships with community organizations. Grow Jackson is consistently amazed by the collaborative potential of this community. We are excited to keep learning and developing ideas.

We are ready to accept donations, a crucial milestone as we work to build a diverse group of financial partners. Donations made now will be tax-deductible retroactively upon the approval of our forms with the IRS and donors will be notified when that happens. Our goal is to work with donors who are our friends and neighbors in the Jackson community. Together we have the opportunity to improve access to fresh food. For Grow Jackson this means building financial relationships people who believe in our mission, as well as working closely with corporate donors and local businesses. We know our partners are proud to call Jackson home. Many are looking for an impactful way to give back to an organization they can trust who will be a good steward of their financial commitment. Grow Jackson is this organization.

– Jacob Inosencio, Board President