PLATINUM2024

Food Empowerment Project

Because your food choices can change the world

aka Food Empowerment Project   |   San Luis Obispo, CA   |  https://foodispower.org

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Mission

The Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a non-profit organization that seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one's food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas.

By making informed choices, we can prevent injustices against animals, people, and the environment. We also work to discourage negligent corporations from pushing unhealthy foods into low-income areas and empower people to make healthier choices by growing their own fruits and vegetables. F.E.P. seeks specifically to empower those with the fewest resources.

Ruling year info

2008

Founder and Senior Program Director

lauren Ornelas

Main address

P.O. Box 13425

San Luis Obispo, CA 93406 USA

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EIN

26-1743952

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (K01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (O01)

Other Services (D60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Access to Healthy Food Reports

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) publishes original statistical data, collected by the organization, on the lack of access to healthy foods in impacted areas; data can then be used by local policymakers and community members to enact policy changes and to support community organizations addressing these concerns. All of our published materials are also offered in Spanish as well as English.

When asked, F.E.P. works with community members to survey the access to healthy foods and also conducts focus groups with local organizations in communities of color and low-income communities. We then use our reports to inform public officials of our findings and encourage policy changes. Our work on the lack of access to healthy foods over the years has allowed us to collaborate with various community organizations as well as governmental bodies.

Our reports on access to healthy foods have been cited by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and are a resource for many schools and universities across the globe. In 2017, the city of San José, CA, and the city of Vallejo, CA, recognized and honored F.E.P. for our vegan food justice work, including our access work within their cities.

In the City of Vallejo, we are working with community members to start a worker-owned cooperative in one of the most impacted areas.

Currently, we are also using our corporate campaign Shame on Safeway to pressure Safeway/Albertsons to change their unjust policy that can leave neighborhoods without a grocery store for more than a decade.

https://foodispower.org/Shame-on-Safeway-and-Albertsons

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) works on corporate transparency, such as in the chocolate industry.

We encourage people to “eat with their ethics,” as this has effects on both human and non-human animals. F.E.P. is working to inform consumers around the globe about the worst forms of child labor (https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate), including slavery, that take place for chocolate. To assist consumers with their chocolate purchases, we have created a list of companies that make vegan chocolates that we do and do not recommend, and it is available in English, Spanish, German, and French. This list, which includes more than 700 companies, is updated monthly. In addition, we have free apps (Android and Apple) that people can download to help them with their purchases.

We also work to get corporations to be transparent about where they source their cacao. Every month we contact companies to determine where their cacao is sourced. Although we have not targeted a corporation since 2011, we do hope to in the future.

Chocolate List: https://foodispower.org/chocolate-list

Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.foodispower.chocolatelist

Apple App: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/chocolate-list/id610310122

Population(s) Served
Adults

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) works to advance the rights of farm workers by supporting corporate, legislative, and regulatory changes. F.E.P. has organized school supply drives for the children of farm workers, as well as food drives.

We depend on farm workers every day for the food on our plates, yet many of them are stretched too thin to buy the basic goods most of us take for granted. F.E.P. believes fundamental changes to this system are urgently needed, and also that solidarity requires active and meaningful support right now for those most affected. With this in mind, F.E.P. organizes an annual school supply drive for the children of farm workers.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Ethnic and racial groups

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) advocates for farm workers' rights through corporate, legislative, and regulatory initiatives. F.E.P. annually organizes a school supply drive and a food drive for the children of farm workers, distributing thousands of school supplies since 2015.

In 2018, F.E.P. led a coalition that successfully overturned California's 50-mile rule, which hindered farm worker children's education, with SB-850. SB-850 expires in 2024.

F.E.P. is currently part of a coalition drafting Assembly Bill 2240, co-authored by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, to keep migrant farm worker centers open year-round in California, providing stable housing for thousands of farm workers and their families. F.E.P. collaborates with organizations like the Center for Farmworker Families, the Center on Race, Immigration, and Social Justice, Human Agenda, and Organizacin de Trabajadores Agrcolas de California on this legislation.

Population(s) Served
Migrant workers

F.E.P. works to promote ethical veganism through education, through outreach, and also by providing resources to help people go and stay vegan.

Amongst these are our cultural recipes websites and booklets.

We have four recipe sites featuring cuisines from the cultures of F.E.P. team members. These projects help people enjoy comfort foods from their culture and share these delicious vegan versions with others. Our website VeganMexicanFood.com (VMF) is available in English and Spanish; VeganFilipinoFood.com (VFF) is available in English and Tagalog; VeganLaoFood.com (VLF) is available in English and Lao; and VeganChineseFood.com (VCF) is available in English and Simplified Chinese! Our fifth recipe site, VeganSoulFood.org (VSF) is coming in 2024!

Each website has a companion booklet that we hand out and mail out to people that request them. Our VMF booklet is in English and Spanish, VFF in English and Tagalog, VLF in English and VCF in English.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Certificate of Recognition 2011

VibeSolano

Proclamation 2018

City of San Jose

Certificate of Appreciation 2017

City of Vallejo California

Proclamation 2017

City of San Jose

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of backpacks filled with school supplies distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

School Supply Drive for the Children of Farm Workers

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Since 2015, we have collected and distributed thousands of school supplies for the children of farm workers.

Number of Instagram Followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

One of the many goals of Food Empowerment Project is to work on the inequity of the food system in the United States, which has led to higher rates of health problems, including diabetes, among people of color and in low-income communities due to the lack of access to healthy foods. We work on the lack of access to healthy foods in these communities (our access work) through scientific research, we amplify the voices of those who are the most impacted, and we distribute our findings to stakeholders and policymakers who can make actionable changes within their communities.
 
Often these geographic areas where residents' access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent, due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance, are described as “food deserts." However, our reports have shown that that it is possible to overlook impacted communities that are not located in so-called food deserts when relying on data collected by the US government.
 
The lack of access of affordable and healthy foods is a form of environmental racism that threatens the health of future generations that has many moving parts. It involves, among other things, where and how people work, the responsibilities they have to juggle, and the importance of a living wage. And, while policy makers and communities need to work together to address inequitable food access, communities need to be the ones making the ultimate decisions.
 
Our aim is to have these reports, with the assistance of community members, provide data for them and policy makers so they have a true understanding of the situation regarding access to healthy foods. Communities, organizers, and health officials may be aware that the lack of access to affordable healthy foods may be impacting their populations. Often these organizations and agencies do not have the data to support what they may observe in their community on a daily basis. We seek to provide scientific data to prove the depth of and effects of the disparity between the distribution of healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities compared to higher-wealth communities and create tools for them to further their important work.

We work with community members to survey healthy food availability and conduct focus groups with local organizations in the impacted areas. We also work to inform public officials of our findings and encourage policy changes. We only work in communities where we are collaborating with local organizations, meaning we do not go in when not invited.
 
Community researchers conduct field surveys in collaboration with research professionals. The data is then analyzed using Geographical Information Systems to confirm trends and identify spatial patterns of food availability across both low- and high-end communities. Our full methodology is clearly presented in our published findings.
 
Our findings are given at no charge to community organizers to supplement their work and support their local advocacy initiatives. We also present our research to policy makers on the local, state, and federal level to help increase awareness of this pressing issue in the governmental sphere. We furnish our findings to local health departments and other relevant agencies and stakeholders. These findings allow community groups and other local non-profits to seek much-needed funding for solutions for these issues, such as community gardens, green carts, and other outreaches. Our findings also support agencies by helping them prioritize and create initiatives that reduce the disparity in access to healthy foods.
 

One of the most important aspects of our work is conducting focus groups in impacted areas with local organizations. We hold these focus groups in order to learn more about how people in the community are accessing healthy foods as well as what they see as solutions to the current problems. We think it is important that communities need to have final decision-making power as they are the ultimate stakeholders.

Our organization has full capabilities to take on this work. We have been doing this research since 2010. Our executive director is an expert in the field of access to healthy foods. We work with researchers during all stages of our research to produce the most accurate scientific data. Our access to healthy foods work has been cited by the United Nations, and our most current findings are being used by the local county public health department. We also work hand in hand with local organizations to meet the needs of the community members who often have barriers to participating in focus groups. We hire translators to help facilitate focus groups so that community members can participate fully.

Since April 2017, we have published three reports on access to healthy foods, we have worked with half a dozen organizations, community groups, and nonprofits, and 7 government agencies. We have distributed thousands of individual reports. We have conducted 8 focus groups in two cities. Our third report led to the creation of a local healthy food festival.
 
We would like to expand our access work into other impacted communities. We have had many local organizations reach out to us in regards to implementing our access work in their community. While we have the expertise and tools to carry out this work, we currently do not have the resources necessary to take on these requests. Through the expansion of our access work, we can help to shine a brighter and clearer light on these complex issues, support local organizations that are already making a difference, and empower community-based solutions.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback

Financials

Food Empowerment Project
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Food Empowerment Project

Board of directors
as of 03/30/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

lauren Ornelas

Food Empowerment Project

Term: 2009 - 2025

lauren Ornelas

Food Empowerment Project

Elise Ferguson

Center for Biological Diversity

Jeannine Cicco Barker

Metztli

Jessian Choy

Sierra Club, Fun and Draconian

Sharanya Krishna Prasad

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/30/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/05/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.