What they do: Ceres Community Project empowers youth fourteen years and older in Northern California to use food to positively impact the health of thousands of low-income individuals struggling with chronic disease in their community. As part of the Project, teens volunteer to make nutritious meals that are delivered to patients suffering from chronic illnesses and their families. Founder Cathryn Couch, a chef and healthy food activist, and Ceres staff have developed their program as a model for using medically-tailored meals to support positive health outcomes while strengthening overall community health and well-being. They aim to convince policymakers, healthcare providers, and insurance companies of the need to make nutritious food an accessible and enduring part of the healthcare system for all Americans.
The organization educates the broader community about the connections between food choices and the health of individuals, society as a whole, and the planet. It also champions the policies and practices of social equity that build a diverse, inclusive, and healthy workplace and food system.
How they do it: The Ceres Community Project provides free or low-cost, nutrient-rich prepared meals and delivers them to the homes of people dealing with cancer and other chronic conditions. The organization trains teen volunteers to work in its gardens and commercial kitchens, giving them opportunities to develop leadership skills while learning to grow and prepare fresh, healthy foods. In 2020, a team of nearly 350 teens helped to prepare over 180,000 meals for roughly 1,600 clients in Sonoma and Marin counties in California. In addition, the Ceres Community Project works with lawmakers and community stakeholders to promote policies that increase SNAP benefits, protect farmworkers, and allow for health insurance plans to cover medically-tailored meals as a healthcare intervention. Working with Google’s Food Lab, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other research partners, the Project also supports research to educate the broader community about the connections between food choices and individual and community health.
Mission: To create health for people, communities, and the planet through love, healing food, and empowering the next generation.
Major Funding: Grantmakers, including the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Clif Bar Family Foundation, Jonas Family Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, MarinHealth Medical Center, UNFI Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.
Annual Budget: $2.5 million
Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: Ceres Community Project is part of the California Food & Farming Network, a coalition of more than 50 organizations that apply a racial justice lens to creating a sustainable food and farming system for the state.
Ceres Community Project
7351 Bodega Avenue
Sebastopol, CA 95473
Number of staff: 51
Number of volunteers: 851
Areas served: Sonoma and Marin Counties (CA)
Year Started: 2007
CEO and Founder: Cathryn Couch
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org