Our Community First Grant Program supports partnerships between Whole Foods Market Team Members and local nonprofits with programs focusing on long-term fresh, healthy food access and community health.
For 2021, we are thrilled to announce that we are awarding 59 Team Member-nominated, community-led organizations an average of $8,000 each to advance fresh food access through our annual Community First Grant. This $470,000 commitment is being invested in 43 cities spanning 21 states and Canada!
Since launching the grant program in 2016, Team Members have helped us award 283 grants in 120 cities, investing $1,731,000. More than 160 Team Members from 85 Whole Foods Market stores, 11 regional offices and our Global Support office have participated!
Each 2021 grant partner has been awarded an average of $8,000 to support their projects, which include:
- 19 urban farms
- 9 nutrition education and healthy cooking classes
- 8 community gardens
- 8 mobile markets
- 6 agricultural skills development programs
- 5 farmer’s markets, co-ops and grocery stores
- 4 SNAP and WIC incentive programs
Throughout the duration of the grant year, Team Members grow the relationships with their partners through volunteer and other engagement opportunities. Read on to learn more about each Team Member and 2021 Community Partner.
Meet the 2021 Team Members and Community Partners:
Lauren O’Mara | TMS Generalist | Orlando Metro | Orlando, FL
Lauren believes that community health comes down to equality—every person deserves fresh, healthy food. In Central Florida, Hebni Nutrition Consultants work towards that goal with nutrition education programs, healthy cooking classes and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
By securing a sixth Community First Grant for Hebni, Lauren is making sure Whole Foods Market’s support of the nonprofit’s mobile market, the Fresh Stop Bus, keeps rolling on. She is eager to share community engagement opportunities with other Team Members too.
“After the past year, Team Members are ready and excited to be involved in something outside of the store and give back to the community. I look forward to opportunities where Team Members can see the impact Whole Cities Foundation and the Community First Grant program has in Orlando and share their experiences with other Team Members.”
Dolly Fields |Associate Store Team Leader | Tallahassee Store | Tallahassee, FL
Dolly, an Associate Store Team Leader, has been a Team Member for eight years. She loves connecting people with food and with the source of their food and believes there is great satisfaction in knowing who your farmer is and where your dollars go when you buy your food. That’s why she works with Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which supports small regional farms and maintains an online farmers market. Dolly believes the Community First Grant will help tap into the organization’s full potential.
“My heart is in my community, its growth and ability to thrive,” she explains. “A strong, healthy community relies on the commitment we have to our neighbors and our locale.”
Amy Bell | Principal on the Business Development Team | Global Office | Austin, TX
Amy secured a Community First Grant for Sustainable Food Center, where she serves on the Board of Directors, as well as a second grant for Multicultural Refugee Coalition, where she is a CSA member and active donor. She sees fresh food access as critical to the health and well-being of a community, as well as individuals. This belief not only attracted her to a career at Whole Foods Market, it also drives her commitment to support local food systems in Austin.
“Many of my fellow Team Members feel the same way and also share an unabashed commitment to improving the communities in which we live in. To that end, we have shared resources and volunteered together in the past as a result, and it is an honor to do that in service of increasing access to fresh, healthy foods in Austin.”
Lisa Edwards | QA Software Engineer| Global Office | Austin, TX
The Community First Grant program provides Lisa with an opportunity to be involved with organizations focused on outreach in areas that matter most to her including fresh, healthy food access and community health. The Alliance for African American Health in Central Texasisone such example, and she’s honored to get involved.
Her second nominee of the grant year, FarmShare Austin, has been a longstanding Whole Cities Foundation partner since their first Community First Grant in 2016. Lisa is excited to continue evolving this relationship and is exploring ways to contribute her own skills and talents too.
“Ultimately the greater number of organizations which are committed to exposing, educating and enhancing the experience of their communities to the benefits of wholesome food, the closer we get to having a healthier and more conscientious world. It sounds pretty lofty I know, but I’m simply at a point in my life where I want to be a part of generating this momentum in my community.”
Carol Kingsmore | Store Team Leader | Marlton Store | Marlton, NJ
Carol has been a Team Member for more than two decades and actively brings to life Whole Foods Market’s mission both in and out of the store. When it comes to advancing fresh, healthy food access in her community, she points out that the need is urgent. Nearby the city of Camden is repeatedly pointed out as a community severely lacking access to fresh food. The Mid-Atlantic Region has had a relationship with Virtua Health Foundation for several years, and Carol is strengthening this partnership by securing their third Community First Grant.
“Supporting our local organizations so they can provide and distribute healthy food to under-resourced communities is important to Whole Foods Market and is in line with our core values. Providing both fresh heathy produce and nutrition education to local families supports the overall health of our community.”
Erin Marshall | Bakery Team | Wynnewood Store | Wynnewood, PA
Erin secured Beckett Life Center’s first Community First Grant because she recognizes it is a special place. She points out that the center aims to design, host and implement a diverse range of programming and events to holistically support community members as they battle the many barriers that often entrench people in cycles of poverty and urban trauma.
“There are many remarkable features to the Beckett Life Center and the work that they do, but what I enjoy most is the people. When it comes to staff, I feel very supported and uplifted whenever I’m around them. The strength, resilience and trust of community members and their families have taught me a great deal about holding space for others, increased my gratitude and humility, and continually reinforces the importance of kindness and respect in all situations.”
Gennaro Galtieri | Meat Team Leader | Lexington Store | Lexington, KY
Gennaro has noticed that Team Members are drawn to work for Whole Foods Market for similar reasons. They believe that healthy eating can lead to a better and more fulfilling life, that access to healthy food should be a human right, and that helping their community is one of the most fulfilling things they can do.
He nominated FoodChain because he wants to support their efforts to forge links between the Lexington community and fresh food through education and demonstration of sustainable food systems. After launching in 2011, FoodChain built an innovative aquaponics farm to demonstrate sustainable agriculture in an urban environment, and that caught Gennaro’s attention.
“What first got me interested in FoodChain when I heard that they were using spent grains from a local brewery to feed a farmed fish tank, that in turn fertilized aquaponic plants, some of which were then used in small batch beer at the brewery! They have grown so much since then and have expanded to provide so much for the community.”
Catherine Kiely | Store Team Leader | Lexington Store | Lexington, KY
With more than 15 years at Whole Foods Market under her belt, Catherine is guided by Whole Foods Market’s core value We Care About Our Community and the Environment, and she believes it is a Team Member’s duty to express this core value through their actions. Catherine is doing exactly that by both securing a Community First Grant for Seedleaf’s community garden and by being an active volunteer with the organization.
“I love volunteering with Seedleaf because we feel like we are making a real difference and positively impacting community members’ lives. It is also really special having the opportunity to make new connections with other Team Members as we work toward doing something for the greater good.”
Julie Wainwright | Produce Team | Midtown Detroit Store | Detroit, MI
Julie has been a Team Member for more than a decade and has been actively supporting Keep Growing Detroit since 2014. She sees the organization as a strong resource and support system for residents. This is the fourth year Julie has secured a Community First Grant on their behalf to help create a food sovereign Detroit where the majority of fruits and vegetables are grown within the city limits.
“I love my neighbors, I love my customers, I love my coworkers, and I wish for all of us to have the education, resources, and access necessary to heal our bodies. Systemic racism, institutionalized racism tied in with class has denied entire populations in this country access to healthy food and healthy food traditions, and Keep Growing Detroit is actively working to negate this locally.”
Edward Whittington | Prepared Foods Supervisor | Galleria Store | St. Louis, MO
Edward has been a Team Member for 10 years and has been involved with The Community Gardens of Hope Hill for nearly half of that time. He describes the garden as a unique space where residents and neighbors come together to grow food and build community in Ferguson. This is the third Community First Grant for The Community Gardens of Hope Hill. Through the store’s continued partnership with the garden, Edward and other Team Members are striving to amplify efforts to advance community health.
“It’s an easy way to be part of the community, learn some fun gardening tips, and try new veggies and cooking ideas. It is a natural extension of my volunteer work.”
James Clancy | Associate Store Team Leader | Fresh Pond Store | Cambridge, MA
James, a 13-year Team Member, is passionate about giving back to his local community and supporting his Community First Grant partner Victory Programs, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families facing homelessness and may have substance use disorders or other chronic health issues.
“I would like to become an asset for their organization with training and support. I also hope to highlight their worthy organization as a destination for our Team Members to volunteer and make a positive impact.”
Kerrie D’Ercole | Store Support Supervisor | South Weymouth Store | South Weymouth, MA
As a Whole Foods Market Team Member with 15 years of experience, Kerrie is excited to support her Community First Grant partner, Weymouth Food Pantry. Their community garden distributes about 350,000 pounds of food per year, and she’s proud to help them grow. This is the second time Weymouth Food Pantry has received a Community First Grant.
“I really want everyone to be able to enjoy fresh tasty fruits and veggies because it really is better to eat them. And I’m sure there are lots of people that would learn to love veggies if they had access to them. Asparagus and kale are now my favorites!”
Chuck Olivieri | Specialty Team | South End (Ink Block) Store | Boston, MA
Chuck is inspired by what is happening in his local community, especially when it comes to addressing food access and hunger. He has been at Whole Foods Market for 33 years and has been involved with his partner About Fresh since their mobile market, Fresh Truck, first started helping to increase access to healthy food in Boston. This is the third Community First Grant for the organization.
“Volunteering at a mobile market is perfect for me and others who want to call upon our retail experience at Whole Foods Market to serve those in neighborhoods without nearby access to healthy, fresh produce. It’s encouraging to volunteer with college students and others who have ‘do good’ life values like those of many Team Members. The physical work is great exercise, too!”
Kristyne Potter | Store Support Team Leader | Fresh Pond Store | Cambridge, MA
Kristyne has been a Team Member for more than 15 years and works at a store with a strong history of community involvement. She is hoping to build on this momentum with a Community First Grant supporting Waltham Fields Community Farms. The store has had one volunteer opportunity there, and Kristyne is now hoping to deepen the partnership by supporting their mobile market program and tapping into volunteer opportunities.
“I think access to fresh food and education about fresh food is a basic human right! Fresh food can be expensive, but so important. Learning to grow and prepare your own fresh food is so empowering! Being able to take care of yourself and your family is life-changing.”
Debby Tamborella| Cashier | Hingham Store | Hingham, MA
Debby believes in the power and potential of her community and has supported her partner Friends of Holly Hill Farm for many years including three Community First Grant cycles. She enjoys volunteering at their plant sales, farm stand, workshops and guided trail walks.
“I love volunteering at Holly Hill Farm because I feel like I have found my tribe. The people that work and volunteer there are dedicated to respecting the land, growing organic produce and serving the community. The COVID-19 crisis has shown me that we, as a society, need to get back to basics. The best way we can do that is to repair the land, grow nutritious food, and help as many people as possible get access to it. Partnering with Holly Hill Farm allows me to pursue that goal.”
Nichole Vilandre | Associate Store Team Leader | Bedford Store | Bedford, MA
Nichole is passionate about finding ways for her fellow Team Members to volunteer in the community. Partnering with Wright-Locke Farm Conservancy through the Community First Grant program provides that opportunity. A New England farm with a rich history, it is working to build broad community and model sustainable practices through active learning, organic agriculture and land stewardship—echoing many Whole Foods Market core values.
“Expanding fresh, healthy food is important to me and my Team Members because fresh, healthy food is a cornerstone of optimal health. With the increase of commercialized crops and processed foods, having a farm that heals the community through good food and educating everyone about the importance of produce is an absolute gift.”
Jennifer Desrosiers | Associate Store Team Leader | Portsmouth Store | Portsmouth, NH
Jennifer is passionate about helping community members access fresh, healthy food which is why she nominated her mobile market partner, Seacoast Eat Local. The Dover-based organization cultivates a thriving food economy by building bridges between regional food producers and consumers.
“Expanding fresh, healthy food access is important on so many levels. By providing community gardens and cooking classes, you teach community members how to enrich their bodies and minds and live a healthier life. These lessons are brought home and passed on to their loved ones. By teaching healthy food education and providing knowledge about growing your own healthy food, we can create generations of people that can lead improved lives. Eating fresh, healthy food has a direct correlation to improved physical and mental health.”
Maryann Young | Prepared Foods Team | Third and 3rd Store | Brooklyn, NY
During her nearly eight years with Whole Foods Market, Maryann has enthusiastically spearheaded 17 Community First Grants with 12 local organizations! During the 2021 grant year, she secured grants for these locally led organizations: Bronx Community Farm Hubs; El Puente; FamilyCook Productions; Hester Street Collaborative; Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation; Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub; Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation; Queens County Farm Museum; Red Hook Initiative; United Community Centers; We Stay/Nos Quedamos; and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.
“The Community First Grant program has opened the door for many nonprofit organizations to find creative solutions to the problem of food insecurity. To see community garden leaders, farmers, and volunteers unite to provide much-needed locally grown fresh produce is heroic. The movement to expand fresh, healthy food access is growing, and I’m so honored to be a part of it!”
Jess Moreles | Associate Store Team Leader | Los Gatos Store | Los Gatos, CA
Jess has been a Team Member for more than five years and secured another Community First Grant on behalf of Valley Verde. He has been working with the organization for several years as a volunteer, patron and friend to help build resilient communities around food. He appreciates the direct impact Valley Verde’s efforts have on lives in the San Jose and Silicon Valley areas.
“Whole Foods Market’s mission is to improve the lives of the community we serve. The Community First Grant and its support of organizations, like Valley Verde, focuses on improving health through access to fresh, healthier foods.”
Julie Atkins | Marketing Specialist | Northern California Regional Office | Emeryville, CA
Julie has been a Team Member for six years and secured Community First Grants on behalf of two Bay Area organizations: Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project and Fresh Approach. Several years ago, she participated in a Whole Foods Market-sponsored Engine 2 immersion and learned firsthand the impactful benefits of a healthy diet.
“The immersion was a total game-changer for me, and I can’t thank Whole Foods Market enough for giving me the opportunity. I want everyone to understand the benefits of
healthy eating as well as have easy access to healthy food. The more access to healthy foods our communities have, the healthier they will be.”
Beth Plevy Wyland | Senior Team Leader of Operations| Northern California Regional Office | Emeryville, CA
Beth has been a Team Member for 13 years, and she’s passionate about fresh, healthy locally grown food. Working with Bay Area organizations to ensure healthy food access and equality is extremely important to her. Beth has been involved with Homeless Garden Project for several years and appreciates that the organization has shown Team Member volunteers how their passion for healthy food, product knowledge, and experience with training and development can extend outside the store walls to benefit the community at large.
“Volunteering with Homeless Garden Project is inspiring and makes me feel like a productive, caring member of my community. From job training and gardening to picking up a CSA or purchasing goods from their storefront and helping at an event, there is a multitude of ways to be involved.”
Leah Abell | Senior In-Store and Local Marketing Specialist | Pacific Northwest Regional Office | Seattle, WA
Leah has been a Team Member for more than eight years and is a returning Community First Grant Team Member. In 2021, she secured grants for the following locally-led organizations: Common Threads Farm; Farmer Frog; Pike Place Market Foundation; Tilth Alliance; and Viva Farms.
“My work at Whole Foods Market has helped me understand that food justice is a key component of a sustainable food system, and that food justice works for racial and economic justice, too. Through my work with local nonprofit organizations, it’s evident that hunger and health disparities are not due to a lack of sufficient food, but rather the inequities that have been designed into the food system, disproportionately impacting communities of color. I believe everyone has the right to fresh, nutritious, culturally appropriate food, and I’m honored to support local organizations and their projects to increase access in my community.”
Nicole Meinzer | Prepared Foods Team | Bellingham Lakeway Store | Bellingham, WA
In addition to her role at Whole Foods Market, Nicole works at Western Washington University where she engages with students who depend on donated food on campus for subsistence. She has worked with the college’s five-acre Outback Farm for a couple of years gardening, recruiting, caring for fowl creatures, and procuring funds for future projects. This is the farm’s first Community First Grant.
“I like being part of the solution of feeding students in need. I love digging in the dirt and working the land. I enjoy the satisfaction of feeding chickens. I like turning food scraps into immediate food for the birds, who reward the garden in turn with compost. I enjoy collaborating with like-minded gardeners to get the job done.”
Kate Conway | Store Support | Bellingham Lakeway Store | Bellingham, WA
Even before helping to secure a Community First Grant for Outback Farm, Kate was actively involved with the organization tending garden beds, planting berry bushes, and harvesting fresh produce. Plus, she has taken a range of classes there from seed saving to permaculture principles. She sees the farm as a hidden gem in her community.
“I love volunteering with Outback Farm because I believe the work they are doing is incredibly important for our community in addressing food insecurity, increasing food access, and educating people on how to grow food for themselves. I have learned so much there, and I want others to experience the joy and empowerment of watching something go from a seed to food on your dinner plate.”
Meredith Facey | Produce Associate Team Leader | Cambie Store | Vancouver, BC
Meredith has been a Team Member for 13 years and secured the first Community First Grant for Sole Food Street Farms, a social enterprise owned by Cultivate Canada. The organization transforms vacant urban land into productive agricultural landscapes, producing over 25 tons of fresh food annually.
“I was raised in a home where healthy family meals together were a part of every day, and I love serving the customers in our community who do the same with their families. I also realize this in not a reality for many people in our community, and I feel passionate about organizations that help people gain access to healthy food and teach them how to grow and prepare their own healthy meals. This helps lift people up and build a better way of living which truly nourishes our whole community.”
Shawn Gross | In-store and Local Marketing Specialist | Pacific Northwest Regional Office | Seattle, WA
This is the third Community First Grant the Pacific Northwest region has secured on behalf of High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. Shawn has volunteered with their food redistribution programs, and the reach of these programs and the commitment to high quality ingredients has been his favorite aspect of the work. He believes their multi-tier approach to supporting the food ecosystem of Central Oregon continues to make them a great match for Whole Foods Market.
“By expanding access to healthy food, a major component of social well-being is being accomplished. I have spent hours volunteering for meal prep programs and gardens that support the wellness of several communities in the city of Seattle. It has been my pleasure to
be in the garden with community members that are able to care for and reap the benefits of freshly grown fruits and vegetables.”
Alayna Williamson | Store Support Team Member | Westlake Center Store | Seattle, WA
With less than a year under her belt at Whole Foods Market, Alayna was quick to bring to life the core value of caring for her community and the environment by nominating Plant Based Food Share for their first Community First Grant. The nonprofit was formed to ease the burdens bought on during the Pandemic, but Alayna points out it does far more than that. It is an organization focused on building community and supporting the local economy.
“Ensuring our community has access to fresh and healthy foods is important because that is the foundation of Whole Foods Market itself. People can’t be their best selves if they aren’t properly nourished. The team at Plant Based Food Share are all truly dedicated to helping families in need gain access to healthy and fresh food, so they can nourish themselves, their families, and their community. I am excited to volunteer more with this organization within the upcoming year.”
Joshua Coyle | Specialty Team Senior Buyer| Denver, CO
Joshua has more than 15 years of experience at Whole Foods Market and is a returning Community First Grant Team Member. He has volunteered with The GrowHaus and looks forward to expanding volunteer opportunities for his fellow Team Members too. He believes that amplifying the efforts of community partners like The GrowHaus can support many Team Members’ personal missions and also help to fulfill Whole Foods Market’s higher purpose of nourishing people and the planet.
“Fresh, healthy food access should be deemed a right, and not a privilege, in our community and culture. Team Members are committed to support this cause through nominating organizations who align with this value and drive meaningful change and take action in our communities.”
Sarah Palki | Senior In-Store and Local Marketing | Rocky Mountain Regional Office | Denver, CO
Sarah and the local Whole Foods Market team have partnered with Metro Caring several times over the years. Sarah, a Team Member for nearly five years, points out how Metro Caring meets Denver’s immediate food needs while also addressing the root cause of hunger—poverty. The Community First Grant that Sarah helped to secure will support Metro Caring’s nutrition and healthy cooking classes and their fresh food market. She is also exploring meaningful ways Whole Foods Market can offer additional support to meet the rising demand for her partner’s services and support.
“There continues to be a lot of talk about good, healthy food, but for far too many people, and especially for those living in low-income communities and communities of color, healthy food is simply out of reach. It is no surprise that these same communities face the highest risks of obesity, diabetes and other preventable food-related health challenges.”
Darcy Landis | Principal Product Development & Innovation Expert | Rocky Mountain Regional Office | Boulder, CO
Darcy is a multi-year Community First Grant Team Member that secured a CFG grant for Boulder County Farmers Market as she believes food access “should be important to every person in every community on the basis of all we are and do begins with food and is not only basic to our survival it is a daily connection to our communities, families, history and a chance for us to take control of our future – if we have a choice. Many communities just aren’t given the choice.”
Lexi Adams | Associate Store Team Leader | Poplar Avenue Store | Memphis, TN
Lexi has been a Team Member for 12 years and is once again participating in the Community First Grant program. She has volunteered with Landmark Training Development Company for several years and pinpoints her favorite aspect is learning from co-founder Mike Minnis, who she describes as a wealth of knowledge. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Lexi and her fellow Team Members have not been volunteering at Landmark in the past year but are eager to return.
“Meeting the needs of the community is a priority. We have several areas of town with barriers to healthy food. There is limited or no access to grocery stores. Securing fresh, healthy food access and healthy eating knowledge helps these communities grow. It’s rewarding for our Team Members to be able to help our communities thrive.”
Erwin Davenport | Customer Support Cashier | Cary Store | Cary, NC
Erwin has been a Team Member for nearly 10 years and has supported Ship Outreach and Community Center for more than half of his tenure. He is deepening his support by securing the organization’s first Community First Grant and looks forward to engaging Team Members in more volunteer opportunities.
“We understand that there are areas of our community that are food deserts, located more than seven miles from the closest grocery store. We support the efforts of nonprofits like Ship Outreach and Community Center that help these communities get access to fresh food. We believe that all people need access to healthy, affordable food.”
Katie Laflin | Specialty Team | Sharon Road Store | Charlotte, NC
With nine years of experience at Whole Foods Market, Katie secured a Community First Grant for Carolina Farm Trust in hopes of supporting their efforts to strengthen equitable local food systems.
“I feel obligated to help, especially when agriculture and food access can be mutually beneficial to producers and consumers. This is a win-win effort. It is a marker of our humanity and society that we work towards easy and sustainable access to fresh and healthy food for everyone. I want my Charlotte community to be better, and that begins with the foundational right and pleasure of knowing who grew your food and how to make it taste delicious and nourish a healthy life.”
Mitchell Mayfield | Bakery Team | Cross Hill Road Store | Columbia, SC
Mitchell has been a Team Member for six years during which he also started volunteering with FoodShare South Carolina. He has since also worked with them as leader of the Cross Hill RoadStore’s T.I.M.E. Group.
“I enjoy the idea that the food they sell is of high quality, and that they supply cooking instructions for all their produce, enabling people to try healthy foods they may never have tried before. Their healthy cooking classes are focused on different at need groups, with an admirable goal of improving overall health without the need for medication, with the belief that diet can be more effective than chronic medication for some cases.”
Deric Sallas | Whole Body Team | Montgomery Store | Montgomery, AL
Deric has been with Whole Foods Market for nearly five years and has been supporting E.A.T. South, an urban teaching farm, for several of those years. He currently volunteers weekly and has enjoyed meeting other volunteers, many of whom have become close friends as they work together to improve fresh food access. He hopes this third Community First Grant will help strengthen the farm’s ability to produce food for the downtown community.
“Fresh, healthy food access is the building block of community, which is why working in the food and service industry can be such a rewarding job choice. So, helping another place like E.A.T. South trying to provide access to healthy food makes our collective community stronger.”
Michaela Rhine | Training Specialist |Scottsdale Store | Scottsdale, AZ
While Michaela is new to working with CamelBackyard Community Food Hub, she has previously volunteered with International Rescue Committee, the organization that oversees the urban farm project. CamelBackyard is a local resource where people can come together to garden, take a class, purchase healthy food and build community—a match for both Whole Foods Market’s mission and Michaela’s interests. In addition to the Community First Grant, Michaela is enthusiastically brainstorming ways such as cooking classes and cultural nights that can strengthen Whole Foods Market’s commitment.
“While I am a new volunteer, I look forward to helping out every weekend and inviting new coworkers and friends to help me! My goal is to create a Whole Foods Market event with CamelBackyard Community Food Hub.”
Glenn Vilar | Associate Store Team Leader | Long Beach Store | Long Beach, CA
Glenn has been a Team Member for more than 10 years, and he is excited to start working alongside Sowing Seeds of Change. The organization’s primary objectives and vision are to employ transition-age people with disabilities and foster youth through a job-readiness program, grow organic produce, and host educational workshops for the neighboring community. Glenn’s goal is to work alongside the organization from the ground up and create a strong long-lasting partnership that can improve the well-being of the Long Beach community.
“I value that in a metropolitan city with diversity Sowing Seeds of Changeis granting individuals opportunities to learn how to grow, sustainable healthy food and develop skill sets to improve an overall healthier lifestyle.”
Freddie Cavazos | Specialty Supervisor | Lakewood Store | Dallas, TX
After forming a relationship with the founder of 4DWN Project, Freddie organized a volunteer day for a few Team Members, and by 2021, he had spearheaded an Earth Day opportunity for team members from four stores throughout the Dallas metro to plant garden plots and build GroBoxes on the nonprofit’s behalf. Rooted in skateboarding, 4DWN Project’s mission is fostering growth and opportunities for youth and the community. Freddie secured their first Community First Grant and hopes to continue creating volunteer opportunities for Team Members to help support 4DWN Project’s community work.
“I enjoy the excitement that these guys bring to the community. They are skateboarders, so it’s amped-up fun then we get down to the root of things. The 4DWN Project team are eager to grow and love it when Whole Foods Team Members help out.”
Mae Cranford | Store Scanning Specialist | Midtown Houston Store | Houston, TX
Mae understands that access to healthy, fresh and local food is vital, and she is passionate about supporting efforts to advance community health, especially in underserved neighborhoods. Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation’s urban farm promotes agriculture while teaching entrepreneurial skills to young adults through their farmers’ market program. Mae looks forward to expanding her involvement.
“I am passionate about encouraging and teaching people to get more involved with understanding where their food comes from and how beneficial locally grown products can be not only for the health of the community but for their overall wellbeing, Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation shares this passion, so I look forward to helping them with their work.”
Charlotte Hall | Store Support | Bowman Store | Little Rock, AR
Charlotte has been a Whole Foods Market Team Member for 15 years and currently holds the roles of Local Champion and Kids Club Program Lead. However, her dedication to community partnerships and service extends beyond her job. She helped secure Well Fed Community Development Corporation’s first Community First Grant.
“I champion local nonprofits that place a high value on expanding fresh, healthy food access because I desire to see my community eliminate food insecurity. Providing healthy foods to in-need communities positively impacts the community around us. The mission to feed underserved communities is a big one, and it takes a lot of volunteers to provide healthy food to under-resourced families. I would love to see our Team Members rally together and work alongside the team at Well Fed.”
Tobias Markey | Produce Team Leader | Oklahoma City Store | Oklahoma City, OK
With nearly a decade of experience with Whole Foods Market, Tobias is a returning Community First Grant Team Member. He believes the more we do to advocate for healthier eating and providing access to healthy foods to underserved populations, the more we can make a difference in our communities. While he has supported other local partners, the relationship with RestoreOKC is new.
“I am interested in becoming involved so I can utilize my time to make a positive impact by bringing healthier food to the food desert of NE Oklahoma City. Restore is doing an outstanding job of growing and distributing food to those who need it most, and I hope to spread the word to our community through this much-needed grant.”
Roberto Somavilla | Prepared Foods Specialist | Park Lane Store | Dallas, TX
Roberto has been a Team Member for nearly five years and has been helping out at Bonton Farms, a four-time Community First Grant recipient, for several years. He has organized volunteer groups from the Park Lane store to go to the farm every couple of months and has had several Team Members join him each time. He’s now hoping to build on this momentum and increase Team Member involvement with Bonton, which is one of the largest urban farms in the U.S.
“I am fascinated by the entire supply chain that connects the farm to the consumers. It’s one of the reasons I sought out this job at Whole Foods Market! I love getting to see other aspects besides the ones we are directly involved with at work, and I know many of my fellow Team Members do as well.”