Changemaker Nomination: Heifer International

It’s the next 2013 Changemaker Nomination suggested by a chocolate lover like you! 

Congratulations to Heifer Internationalwww.heifer.org

Here’s what Marianne has to say about this fearless organization:

“Heifer International is making a real difference in lives. They give animals that keep giving to their communities making a real change in peoples’ lives. They do not simply feed families in need, but rather give them food AND an abundance that allows them to sell additional animal products.”

A little more info:

“Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.

It all started with a cow.

Moved by the plight of orphans and refugees of the Spanish Civil War as he ladled out meager rations of powdered milk, Dan West, an Indiana farmer, volunteer relief worker and Church of the Brethren member, grasped that the people needed “a cow, not a cup”—cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid. From that simple idea, Heifer International was born.”

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Changemaker Nomination: Halie Weber, Misfit Animal Rescue

It’s the next 2013 Changemaker Nomination suggested by a chocolate lover like you! 

Congratulations to Halie Weber, Misfit Animal Rescuewww.misfitanimalrescue.com

Here’s what Ruzena has to say about this fearless organization:

“Halie Weber is a 17 year old who founded Misfit Animal Rescue after realizing the plight of death-row animals in her local area. She and her mother went to adopt a new herding dog and were going to leave until they found out that the one they didn’t pick would be euthanized. Her county doesn’t have a low-cost spay/neuter program so many animals are put to sleep in the shelters every day because of overcrowding, sickness, and mismanagement of funds.

Halie saw this was a problem and she became an activist for animals — speaking to local legislators and committees and even ending up on the news as well as the front of the newspaper twice in the last few months. At first she asked her mom, “Why doesn’t someone do something about this?” and then she realized “I AM someone.” In the last 4 months, they’ve rehomed over 80 last-chance dogs and an unknown number of cats.

She and her parents and sister have been such an amazing inspiration for many of us. I adopted my dog from the kill shelter through them last month and ever since, I’ve become actively involved with trying to help them out. It would make me so happy to see some money go to them — especially now that they’ve just taken in some heartworm positive animals as well as a pregnant momma dog who is ready to give birth at any time. They’ll be having some major expenses soon.

Their hearts are so big and they’ve dedicated so much of their love and time to these animals. Not only has that changed their lives and the animals lives, but it’s changed mine. They’re a great example of a family who makes giving back absolutely contagious.”

A little more info:

“Our mission is to reduce euthanasia and take on animals that no one else has adopted and are therefore going to be euthanized. We are also dedicated to educating the public and our local government agencies about the importance of having affordable spay and neuter programs in our community.

The “misfit” dogs we save are generally larger dogs that are not adopted from county shelters as often as smaller dogs. We take them to our ranch and treat them as a member of our family while they wait for their forever home. If you are interested in adopting a dog or cat please see our ADOPTION page.”

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Changemaker Nomination: The Refuge

It’s the next 2013 Changemaker Nomination suggested by a chocolate lover like you! 

Congratulations to The Refuge (Jim and Marietta Hartley)refugekc.com

Here’s what Mike has to say about this fearless organization:

“Since the Columbine shootings, the Hartleys have been inspired to reach out to young people and encourage them to seek their destiny and become Champions of life.

They run a non profit youth event center in Overland Park, KS called The Refuge. Their name Hartley corresponds to their huge hearts and caring attitude towards young people and their futures.”

A little more info:

“ ‘The refuge is the safer place for teens to party!’

The refuge is not just a place, it is a state of mind. We believe all the best things in life : friends, music , concerts, video games, movies, fun, food and parties should help you achieve and celebrate your dreams instead of rob you of them.

Champions of Life Inc. provides safe, fun places, all ages events and youth activities through arts and music that are free from the risks and influence of drugs, alcohol and violence and self destructive attitude and behaviors.

Our mission is to help young people stay healthy and whole by choosing to be a “Champion of Life” over taking drugs or alcohol, smoking and other destructive choices.”

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CONGRATULATIONS 2012 Changemaker: Food Shift!

The vote is in and our 2012 ChangeMaker of the Year is Food Shift!

What began as an educational organization, Food Shift (www.FoodShift.net) is now developing food justice and recovery programs in our very own Oakland, California. Working with community members, public schools and food businesses alike, founder Dana Frasz is an inspiring leader in the movement to reduce waste. Dana sat with me this April to talk about what we can do to curb waste, empower communities, and respect the environment.

Jordan – Thanks for spending the morning with me Dana. I’m excited to learn more about you and your amazing work with Food Shift! As we always say, Fearless Chocolate is inspired by you who have the courage to dream and act. What inspired you to dream and act, and create an organization called Food Shift?

Dana – When I was 17, I took a year off after high school and spent 4 months traveling around South-East Asia — volunteering and living with families. It was at a Buddhist meditation retreat in Dharamsala, India when I first tapped into my higher calling. The experience of international travel helped shape my world view, awakened my understanding of the true value of food, and helped me realize my position of privilege and therefore responsibility. When I returned home I was overwhelmed by the excess, consumption and waste in our society. I remember the day I saw tray after tray of totally edible food being dumped down the garbage disposal in the campus kitchen at RIT. I freaked out. For one night the manager allowed my friend Len and me to package up the food and take it into the abandoned subway tunnels in Rochester. We shared the food with some men who were living there — this was my first experience with hunger and homelessness in America. I transferred to Sarah Lawrence College and was attracted by the opportunity to design my own major. I studied hunger in America, the economics of waste and consumption, sustainable food-systems and non-fiction writing. The campus was located in Bronxville, New York — a wealthy town with several upscale eateries. I began to ask the businesses and school dining hall if they would donate their excess food. There was a lot of resistance at first but I remained persistent and, by my senior year, we had 10 donors in the community, including the school dining hall, 45 student volunteers and our excess was helping to feed 500 people in the Bronx everyday. After college I spent 3 years working at Ashoka where I became fascinated by social innovation, worked with social entrepreneurs from all over the world and learned about creating sustainable systemic change. I moved to the Oakland and began attending a lot of sustainable food events. I met incredible people, learned about great organizations and yet was wondering why no one was talking about the fact that we are wasting almost half of all our food. I saw this as a real gap in the conversation and a gap in the food justice and sustainability ecosystem.

Jordan – How would you frame hunger in America?

Dana – We are throwing away 40% of all the food we produce while 50 million Americans don’t have adequate access to food. I see this as one of the most disturbing, unjust, and yet solvable paradoxes of our time. We have more than 40,000 groups working to alleviate hunger in this country, yet, hunger in our country is a bigger problem than ever before. The traditional models of food recovery and food assistance are not working. Food alone will not solve hunger. A free meal or bag of groceries is only a temporary fix to a complex problem rooted in unemployment and structural inequality. And that is why Food Shift is working so hard to shift the paradigm around food recovery and food assistance from one that is volunteer and hand-out based to one that focuses on using food to cultivate jobs and catalyze self-sufficiency.

Jordan – I like the idea of approaching the problem by pairing food recovery with job creation. Food is always coming from somewhere and going somewhere, and this implies a whole chain of potential value. How is Food Shift trying to change our culture around food waste and hunger?

Dana – Food Shift’s work involves increasing awareness about the social and environmental impacts of wasted food and inspiring a shift in thinking and behaviors around food. 25% of food waste is happening in our own homes, so we all have an opportunity to be part of the solution by shifting our own behaviors. Right now, there’s a lack of consciousness around the value of food and often people don’t quite connect how wasted food also means wasted land, oil, water, and soil fertility. Food Shift is developing revenue generating food recovery models that provide job training and employment opportunities for vulnerable populations. We know we can employ people in the recovery, redistribution and processing of excess food. This requires a shift in our thinking around both food recovery and food assistance. For decades, we have relied on charity groups to address these massive challenges of food waste and hunger. Despite their obvious value, most food recovery groups in the U.S. provide a free service, receive limited financial support and depend on volunteer commitments to operate. This structure is unsustainable and limits their ability to expand, increase impact, purchase necessary infrastructure, provide wages, and effectively tackle a crisis of this magnitude.

Jordan – I like this idea of food recovery as a service. And I’m trying to imagine you going into a restaurant or an Andronicos and saying “Hey I have this service I want to provide.” Is that an easy conversation?

Dana – It is not easy to get businesses to donate food. We often have to conquer the perception of extra labor, cost and the fear of liability to the business in order to successfully engage with donor businesses. Fortunately, the Good Samaritan Act protects donors of food from liability issues when they donate food to non-profits. We often start with the staff to make sure there’s “staff buy-in.” We’re asking questions like “how will this best work for you? What time should pick-ups happen? How should we label the boxes for your ease of use?” And we work to make sure they understand where this food is going and why this program is important. The staff buy-in is critical. If we don’t achieve that we know the program isn’t going to work.

Jordan – 6 years ago I started a chocolate company and there have been so many moments where moving forward just seemed improbable or downright impossible. You have that self-aware moment of holy$%&* what the heck am I doing? How am I going to solve this? The world doesn’t make it easy to do good work, especially when the driver of your business is values and principles beyond profit. Sometimes you reach that moment where it truly takes a Fearless attitude to push on through. You’re thinking, “I don’t know if this is possible….but if it is, this is how I think its going to work,” and you put your faith in that idea to move forward. You started this program a year and a half ago. What was your greatest Fearless moment so far?

Dana – My fearless moment was the day I decided to launch Food Shift and every day since then that I have been working to take it to the next level. Working to shift a paradigm, change cultural behaviors and influence widespread mindsets is hard. What we are proposing is a major shift in how we regard and utilize food and people in our communities. We are suggesting that we develop different systems that will be better for the environment, the economy and our communities. It’s big, its unique, and its outside what most people consider a possibility.

Jordan – How exciting! And now that you’ve got a year and a half behind you, where do you hope to be in the next year and a half?

Dana – Currently we are exploring a fee-for-service food recovery model with Andronico’s Community Markets in which they would pay us to remove their unwanted food. They see it as a way to reduce waste disposal costs, receive tax deductions, and benefit the community and environment which of course is valuable for marketing and branding. Additionally, we are working with St. Vincent de Paul and Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) in Oakland to make use of cosmetically imperfect and surplus food from farms and grocers. With this food we are going to set up farmers markets, in communities like West Oakland, where we have liquor stores but no grocery stores. We are going to sell the produce at a low cost on a sliding scale so low-income individuals and families can access affordable nutritious food. We also are piloting a program in which we will utilize this food to create value-added products — like jams, sauces and chutneys. These programs will be used as job training opportunities for individuals who are overcoming difficult life circumstances. These are realistic strategies that embrace the potential of food to be used as a tool to empower people and strengthen communities. This is a way we can do more than just feed people through a soup kitchen but also feed them through skill building, employment and opportunity. Lastly, we are working with Oakland Unified School District to reduce waste at schools and redistribute excess food to students and their families.

Jordan – Fearless is a humble sized company but we have customers all over the country and all over the world. How can people get involved with Food Shift locally, but also nationally and globally?

Dana - There is a very tangible action everyone can take to support Food Shift and the movement to end food waste. Until May 12th Food Shift needs votes in a Facebook contest in order to win $50,000 worth advertisements on San Francisco’s public transit. Food Shift is currently in the lead but we need more votes! And, everyone who votes has a chance to win a $500 BART card! People can join Food Shift online at www.FoodShift.netwww.Facebook.com/Foodshift, on twitter and sign up for our newsletter. We are always in need of volunteers and funding so if you are able to contribute, please do!

Jordan – We have a program we call “Bite-Back,” where we give a bite-sized portion of our proceeds from each bar we sell to changemakers nominated by our customers. Fearless found Food Shift because you were nominated by one of our customers. Congratulations and thanks for doing such inspiring work! Now lets pay it forward, who inspires you and Food Shift, who would you like to nominate for 2013?

Dana – Josh Arnold at GALA: Josh makes magic happen in his community, based in New Hampshire — its all focused on strengthening the community and making it more sustainable. He has dedicated the last 6 years of his life to this project, helping his town and NH become more self-reliant, aware and connected. He is a strong leader with the vision and talent to make this world a better place.

Gavin Radars at Planting Justice, based in Oakland. He has an incredible vision for establishing backyard gardens to both explore elements of food justice and job creation. They offer a paid landscaping service where the proceeds are reinvested into garden planting projects at homes and public spaces in low-income communities. It’s about empowerment, employment and a more sustainable food system. Gavin is a true leader, incredibly articulate and has created a fantastic model that should be expanded across the country.

Avery Ellis is Co-Owner at Backyard Revolutions and Owner/Designer/Builder/Teacher at Integrated Aquaponics, based in Colorado. Avery is a leader, teacher and most of all a do-er. He creates, builds, grows, learns and each day is creating a more nutritious, sustainable world through his development of permaculture agricultural systems that use aquaponics.

Jordan – Thank you Dana and congratulations on winning our 2012 ChangeMaker of the Year award! Its an honor to support you and your work with Food Shift, we are inspired!


A big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Food Shift in the BART Blue Sky contest by May 19th! 

Nearly 900 people indicated through the online contest that they believe in the work and want to see Food Shift ads on San Francisco’s public transit system.  We believe, along with Food Shift, that this is a reflection of how deeply people desire a more just and less wasteful food system.

You can help TODAY by donating to Food Shift here: donate

 

Posted by & filed under 2012 Nominations, announcements.

Changemaker Nomination: Transform a Person Africa (Johnson Migwi)

It’s the next 2013 Changemaker Nomination suggested by a chocolate lover like you! 

Congratulations to Transform a Person Africa (Johnson Migwi)transformaperson.org

Here’s what Bobby has to say about this fearless organization:

“I believe that TAPA [Transform A Person Africa] truly exemplifies the attributes you express in your definition of champions and changemakers. TAPA is a charitable non-profit located in Nairobi, Kenya and brings change and hope to women and children in Kibera, the second largest urban slum in Africa.

Fearless — TAPA fearlessly faces the challenges of rampant HIV/AIDS, poverty, and abandonment that define the Kibera slum. They work in this environment every day to create a safe haven and bring hope to the destitute.

Champion — Johnson Migwi, the founder and director of TAPA, was born and raised in Kenya. He was educated abroad and received an MBA from Oxford. He left a career in banking to return to Kenya, create TAPA and being helping in Kibera in 2007.

Changemaker — TAPA is effectively transforming lives in Kibera, one at a time. They have founded a school in the slum, providing early childhood education, clothing and sustenance to approximately 300 children and orphans. They also provide training and skills development for parents and caregivers, teaching them start or improve their small businesses to generate income to support themselves and their families.

TAPA is a dedicated, needs-focused organization, putting it all on the line day after day to transform the lives of people in Africa.”

A little more info:

“TAPA (Transform A Person Africa) is a non profit making charitable organisation, based in Nairobi, Kenya. The organization was founded and registered with the Government of Kenya in September 2007 by Johnson Gachuri Migwi and has 7 Board of Trustees. We seek to address the plight of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC), parents and caregivers (some living with HIV/AIDS) who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of lacking the life basic necessities for survival. TAPA is based on the understanding that human life is precious and that everyone has the right to live a dignified life as God intended. We therefore exist to bring hope to the destitute living in the slums by providing means for them to access education, food, Medicare and creating business opportunities.”

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Changemaker Nomination: International Proxy Parents

Here we go with 2013 Changemaker Nominations suggested by chocolate lovers like you! 

Congratulations to International Proxy Parentsinternationalproxyparents.com

Here’s what Vered has to say about this fearless organization:

“This non-profit organization strives to help less-privileged children in the Caribbean island of Jamaica. It’s a small organization, which struggles to fundraise in order to better the lives of children residing in children’s homes in the island, as well as supporting excelling school students whose families are unable to meet the required school expenses.
The donation will make possible the support of more students who are ambitious and talented, as well as improving the lives of children in the supported children’s homes.”

A little more info:

“The International Proxy Parents (IPP) was founded in 1980 and incorporated in Jamaica under the provisions of the Companies Act, exclusively for the purpose of charity. The mission of IPP is to relieve poverty, suffering and distress among the less privileged children in Jamaica and to provide financial assistance for their education and well being.”

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People say the nicest things!

We couldn’t resist sharing this really nice email we got recently…

“Just a quick note to say THANK YOU. I discovered your product over the weekend at our local Earth Fare market. My chocolate-buying specifications included: at least 72% organic cacao, gluten-free, soy-free, and preferably dairy-free. With most products containing soy lecithin, I had nearly resigned myself to rarely eating chocolate again. Not only am I pleased to discover that Fearless had met my “requirements,” I am over the moon at the quality of the product, the packaging, and the commitment to provide a portion of the proceeds to the broader community. The Fearless Chocolate brand has won my support and endorsement, and I will be eagerly recommending your products to all of my friends and chocolate lovers.”

Chocolate Love all around!

Posted by & filed under Shout Out.

Fearless Chocolate at EXPO WEST 2013 Booth 2302

Later this week, March 8–10, Fearless Chocolate will once again be showing at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Booth #2302.

This year we’re launching a new line of bite-size Fearless Chocolate morsles that will be available in five flavors: MidnightExploding CoconutGreen Tea Mint85% Deepest Dark, and NEW Fair Trade Coffee.

We’ll also be sampling prototypes of our new Fair Trade Coffee full-size bar, made with ethically sourced beans from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Come by our booth to pick up a Show Special coupon offering 10% – 20% off wholesale and online purchases.

See you there!

Fearless

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Changemaker Nomination: Food Shift

Next in our series of 2012 Changemaker Nominations suggested by a chocolate lover! 

Congratulations to Food Shiftwww.foodshift.net

Here’s what Dana has to say about this fearless organization:

“40% of all the food produced in the United States is wasted. This unnecessary waste has huge social, financial, and environmental consequences. Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year in food and it is costing $750 million per year for disposal. Each time food goes uneaten, all the resources that went into producing, processing, packaging, and transporting that food are wasted too. This means huge amounts of chemicals, energy, land and 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that is thrown away.

Additionally, most uneaten food rots in landfills where it accounts for almost 25% of U.S. methane emissions. Given the resources demanded for food production, the increasing realities of climate change, and the fact that 50 million Americans are food insecure, it is critical that we reduce waste and use global resources more responsibly.

Food Shift is working to solve this major yet rarely addressed problem through education, the creation of a cross sector national network, and by developing and supporting sustainable community-based solutions that reduce waste and provide opportunity.”

A little more info:

“Food Shift is an Earth Island Institute sponsored project dedicated to building a more just and sustainable food system that curbs waste, empowers communities, respects the environment and nourishes all. Food Shift educates and empowers consumers, businesses and communities by increasing awareness about food waste and inspiring food related behavior change. By trimming our waste and diverting food loss, we can feed the hungry, create jobs, combat global warming, conserve natural resources, and cultivate more sustainable communities.”

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Changemaker Nomination: Tiny Drops

Next in our series of 2012 Changemaker Nominations suggested by a chocolate lover! 

Congratulations to Tiny Drops Hip Hop Centertinydrops.org

Here’s what Radhika has to say about this fearless organization:

“This group supports low-income kids in India to practice their passion : hip hop dance & culture. They are trying to open community centers so that kids have a space to invest their energy and grow their art and culture while having access to mentorship on life skills, computer lab, production equipment, etc.”

A little more info:

“Tiny drops hip hop community center, Khirkee extension, New Delhi : Dharavi, Mumbai – a space for kids in the ‘hood to practice, learn and innovate on hip hop dance & culture. gathering a fierce crew of 8–18 year old break dancers, rappers, graffiti writers and artists committed to learning, exploring, and enterprising together.

Tiny drops is a safe, communal space led by talented artists and mentors who serve as positive role models, engage youth with respect and love, and facilitate and encourage meaningful, visionary work.”

Posted by & filed under 2012 Nominations.