For the past ten years, the SDG&E Environmental Champions grant program has helped environmental organizations build their capacity to serve our region, most frequently by providing environmental education and climate literacy programs to youth and adults. Thousands of youth in San Diego have had experiences connecting with nature, received presentations from, or enjoyed field trips with organizations supported through Environmental Champions.
Several of our environmental champion organizations are centered around farming, gardening, or food distribution. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these organizations have pivoted to ramp up food cultivation and distribution supporting people who are experiencing food insecurity in the community. In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to showcase how these nonprofit organizations are demonstrating leadership in supporting San Diego communities in the face of these unprecedented times.
ProduceGood - As a small organization, ProduceGood relies on hundreds of volunteers to sustain their programs, which seek to pair excess food with food distribution partners. Stay at home orders could have shut them down, but instead they mobilized their small employees base to expand gleaning operations. In just two weeks, they recovered 17,143 pounds or 51,429 servings of produce from local farms and backyard orchards. That produce goes either to a local food bank for distribution, or to organizations like Kitchens for Good and O’Side Kitchen Collaborative where they are made into meals and distributed directly to community members in need.
Olivewood Gardens – While COVID-19 has required Olivewood Gardens to cease their nutrition education programming, they are using their resources to provide nutritious food to National City residents. Every Thursday, their donation-based produce stand provides more than 50 families with a bag of produce grown with love at Olivewood Gardens. They also plan to offer their healthy cooking demonstrations online.
Healthy Day Partners – In an effort to support the community’s ability to grow their own food, Healthy Day Partnershas developed Grab and Go Gardens, which are being given to families at local food distribution sites, including Kitchens for Good, Jewish Family Services and Olivewood Gardens. These vegetable seedlings can provide future food security to people struggling financially, and also serves as a great teaching tool for children who may be learning at home. In partnership with Nan Sterman, Waterwise Gardener and host of KPBS “A Growing Passion,” Healthy Day Partners has distributed more than 500 Grab and Go Gardens this month!
Coastal Roots Farm – Nestled in Encinitas with views of the Pacific Ocean, Coastal Roots Farm is an ideal location for both food production as well as events that connect the community, including students with their local food system. Without those events, Coastal Roots has asked all their employees to support their farming operations. Their twice weekly pay-what-you-can farm stand has seen unprecedented demand, with 3 to 4 times the number of customers than usual. They are also ramping up their distribution to Camp Pendleton, Vista Community Clinic, Community Resource Center and others.
The Environmental Champions grant program is part of SDG&E’s commitment to improve the environment and enhance the communities it serves. By supporting nonprofits and climate science education, the company is able to help build healthier communities and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Learn more about SDG&E’s ongoing community support here.
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