The Community First Grant Program supports nonprofits focused on long-term fresh, healthy food access and nutrition education that are engaged with Whole Foods Market Team Members. This includes projects such as community gardens, mobile markets, healthy cooking classes and more.

For 2022, we are thrilled to announce that we are awarding 57 Team Member-nominated, community-led organizations an average of $8,000 each to advance fresh food access through our annual Community First Grant.

To date, we have awarded 342 grants in 128 cities, investing over $2,203,000 with the help from nearly 200 Team Members who both nominate the organizations and commit to volunteering with them during the grant year.

Each 2022 grant partner has been awarded an average of $8,000 to support their projects, which include:

  • 20 urban farms
  • 12 community gardens
  • 9 nutrition education and healthy cooking classes
  • 6 agricultural skills development programs
  • 3 farmer’s markets, co-ops and grocery stores
  • 3 mobile markets
  • 2 SNAP and WIC incentive programs

Throughout the duration of the grant year, Team Members grow their relationships with their partners through volunteer and other engagement opportunities. Read on to learn more about each Team Member and 2022 Community Partner.

Global Support

Heather Heiss | Product Compliance Analyst | Global Support | Austin, TX

A Team Member for two years, Heather secured a grant for Festival Beach Food Forest, an edible forest garden where visitors can openly forage and enjoy fresh food in the middle of downtown Austin. She plans to grow the partnership by volunteering monthly and sees herself as an ambassador for Team Members who also want to get involved. Festival Beach Food Forest’s mission is “Growing edible forest gardens on public land that nourish, educate and inspire.” And that’s exactly what Heather discovered firsthand.

“I enjoy the relaxing public space that Festival Beach Food Forest has contributed to, as well as the nourishing connection with nature and neighbors through volunteer work days. It is so rewarding to experience regenerative agricultural practices, to witness how the landscape changes throughout the seasons, and to learn how to recognize new types of foods and how they grow.”

Kelly Landrieu | Local & Emerging Brands Global Coordinator | Global Support | Austin, TX

Kelly is enthusiastically taking the reins on Whole Foods Market’s partnership with the Sustainable Food Center, which supports local, small to mid-sized farms, increases access to healthy, local food and offers education and resources to help individuals and families maintain a healthy diet. She’s been a Team Member for nine years and is dedicated to supporting local food systems and community partnerships both in and out of the office.

“As members of the Local team, we are strongly tied to the communities Whole Foods Market supports. Our Foragers are imbedded in and represent Whole Foods Market as part of the community. Through our work, we often partner with farmers’ markets, urban farms and other stakeholders in local and regional food systems and we see the positive impact of their work. Access to fresh, healthy food is a right, and we aim to support organizations that strive to make that right a reality for the communities we work in.”

Marissa Pekarek | Senior Business Development Analyst | Global Support | Austin, TX

Marissa has volunteered with Whole Foods Market’s community partner Multicultural Refugee Coalition for two of the three years she’s been a Team Member. This is the third Community First Grant for the organization’s social enterprise, New Leaf Agriculture. The 20-acre organic farm and community garden connects refugees to sustainable farming opportunities. Marissa has enjoyed getting to know refugees while volunteering and learning about their traditional farming cultures. She supports organic farming practices because they can have widespread benefits throughout the community.  

“I really value my health, my family’s health, and my friends’ health, and thus want to help in any way possible to see that they are all living the healthiest lifestyle that they can. The Multicultural Refugee Coalition is an organic farm that does not use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers, which is why I nominated them for the Community First Grant.”

Ted Piper | Supplier Performance Manager | Global Support | Austin, TX

A Team Member for three years, Ted had volunteered at Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ Community First! Village multiple times before securing their second Community First Grant. The organization provides affordable, permanent housing and support for people coming out of chronic homelessness, and their onsite gardens offer fresh, healthy food for residents. This year’s grant allows the 10+-acre gardens to grow as the community expands from 500 to 1,900 permanent homes. It also provides Ted the opportunity to deepen his commitment to the organization and advance the relationship between Whole Foods Market and Community First! Village as they steward the land together.

“Austin has a growing need to cultivate scalable solutions aimed at helping Austinites most in need. The work that Community First! Village does in this area is nothing short of world class.”

Mid-Atlantic Region

Brent Kirk | Store Receiver | Short Pump Store | Glen Allen, VA

After a decade of experience at Whole Foods Market, Brent wanted to volunteer in his community, learn more about growing food and discover how local organizations effectively impact the communities they serve. After learning about the Community First Grant, he started volunteering at Williams City Farms, secured a grant for the organization, and now, he’s inspiring other Team Members to join him.

“I thought I would work on the farm once or twice a month. But once I started, I knew I had to work more and ended up working once or twice a week. I am happy with the outcome and satisfaction I get at seeing how much work I did. This experience has been hard work but is very rewarding.”

Midwest Region

Daniel Berry | Specialty Team Member | Hyde Park Store | Chicago, IL

Daniel has been a Team Member for more than three years, but this is the first time he’s worked with Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation. He hopes this Community First Grant can help the Hyde Park Store evolve community relationships since it is the only Whole Foods Market on the South Side of Chicago. As Daniel begins the grant year, he is driven by a long-standing sense of responsibly to serve his community.

“I have always believed in giving back to the community where I live. Anytime I can give back to the community, it gives me a deeper understanding of the community I live near.”

Connie Eger | Whole Body Order Writer | Louisville Store | Louisville, KY

Connie recently started volunteering with returning grantee New Roots, Inc.’s innovative sliding-scale fresh food markets. Having worked with Whole Foods Market for 11 years, she understands that healthy food is an important part of Team Members’ work lives and so they understand its power. Now, the Community First Grant is allowing her to play a part in advancing fresh, healthy food access outside of the store.

“We want to get involved in the type of positive, beneficial change that food access ignites. A whole network of relationships emerges around food access: individuals are more likely to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families; farmers have more options to market their local products; a larger percent of money spent on food remains in the local economy; and the transporting the food from the farm to individuals is less taxing on the environment. These relationships become the foundation for healthier bodies, healthier minds, healthier communities and a healthier planet.”

Gennaro Galtieri | Senior Field Associate Meat & Seafood | Midwest Regional Office | Chicago, IL

Gennaro, a Team Member for 12 years, nominated Lexington, Kentucky-based FoodChain for a second Community First Grant because he wants to evolve the relationship to help better the Lexington community. He seeing expanding access to fresh healthy food as part of the Whole Foods Market vision and programs like the Community First Grant as giving purpose to what Team Members do.

“Providing healthy food and educating neighbors about healthy food preparation has astounding results for the surrounding communities. Few initiatives have such visible results in bettering our communities and cities, and I can think of no other program that has the amount of return for investment!”

Jenny Krebs | Associate Store Team Leader | Cincinnati Store | Cincinnati, OH

Jenny has been with Whole Foods Market for two decades and understands that being in service to others is a leadership principal that is not just for team leaders. She thinks that when we are in service to others in our community, we all thrive, and our community is strengthened for generations. Jenny is launching a partnership with Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati because she feels it could offer an outlet for Team Members to become more involved in the city, build deep bonds and improve the community. She wishes to create a lasting relationship between the store and nonprofit that can continue for years.

“I cannot think of a better partner than the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. They are an established nonprofit who have been working with the communities in the greater Cincinnati area for 40 years to revive urban community gardens. I believe this relationship will connect our Team Members to our community and our mission to improve access to fresh and healthy food.”

Ron McCann | Associate Store Team Leader | Dublin Store | Columbus, OH

Ron has been a Team Member for nearly a decade, but he is new to Columbus and wants to get more involved in the community. He is not alone in his commitment. Columbus metro leadership from the Dublin, Upper Arlington and Easton Stores united and pledged to reinvigorate and expand their Team Member community outreach program post-Pandemic. The Community First Grant partnership with Franklinton Farms kicks off this initiative. The metro has already committed to three events every quarter, one per month. In addition to community engagement opportunities for Team Members, Ron sees the partnership as a way to give back and expand healthier food and farming practices to local underserved communities.

“We see access to healthy food and education as an issue in our community. While we enjoy serving our customers, not everyone is as financially fortunate to have access. These programs bring that opportunity and nutrition education to members of our community who may not have access through other means.”

Matthew McNeill | Grocery Team Leader | Lexington Store | Lexington, KY

Matthew has been a Team Member for two years and has already volunteered with the store’s community partner Seedleaf for several months. This is Seedleaf’s fourth Community First Grant, and Mathew is excited to continue evolving this relationship because he enjoys being outside, working with his hands, and ultimately, making an investment in the future of his own community. The Lexington store has had a strong presence of volunteers committed to the partnership, so he hopes this will continue. His goal for this year is to better understand the work Seedleaf is doing and the impact of that work.

“Investing in local nonprofits which support food access is an investment in the communities that we live in. Investing in the human, natural and economic capitals of the community can lead to a spiraling up effect to produce a more robust and equitable community.”

Ge Song | Principal Legal Counsel | Global Support | St. Louis, MO

Although Ge is newer Team Member, she is already participating in the Community First Grant to help expand fresh healthy food access. Guided by Whole Foods Market’s purpose to nourish people and the planet, Ge secured grants for three St. Louis area nonprofits: Missouri Coalition for the Environment; Operation Food Search; and Seed St. Louis. By volunteering and working with the community, she hopes to connect with local Team Members, learn more about agricultural practices, and develop a more comprehensive understanding of the local food system. 

“As an attorney working on food on the regulatory legal team, it is easy to be lost in minutia requirements without understanding how these requirements and standards affect consumers or farmers. Through this grant year, I will get a more grounded sense of farming practices to better understand work better.”

Kadie Staine | Store Team Leader| Downtown Evanston Store | Evanston, IL

With 25 years as a Team Member, Kadie is passionate about supporting Evanston Grows. She sees the organization as aligning with Whole Cities Foundation’s mission by working to reduce food insecurity by increasing access to locally grown produce and building community connections. The Downtown Evanston Store is scheduling quarterly Team Member community engagement opportunities—though the ultimate goal would be monthly. Evanston Grows manages several community gardens in underserved neighborhoods which provides a lot of opportunity for Team Members to support this partnership through the grant year and beyond.

“Hands-on volunteering within the community has been one of my favorite things about Whole Foods Market. The pandemic halted some of that engagement, and I’m looking forward to bringing it back.”

Edward Whittington | Prepared Foods Supervisor | Galleria Store | St. Louis, MO

Edward has been a Team Member for 11 years and has supported The Community Gardens of Hope Hill for several of those years. He volunteers for a couple hours nearly weekly to help maintain the garden, participates in work days and is involved in garden planning and project meetings too. He strives to be of service and encourage neighbors to be an active part in the community and aid in advancing community health too. This is the fourth Community First Grant for The Community Gardens of Hope Hill.

“I’m a service-oriented person who enjoys gardening. This is an extension of my community involvement. Plus, I enjoy neighboring with the other volunteers and garden leaders.”

North Atlantic Region

Derick Axon | Associate Store Team Leader | Charlestown Store | Charlestown, MA

As a Team Member with eight years of experience, Derick is excited to support his Community First Grant partner, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. The organization has adopted several initiatives to increase access to healthy food in the community including The East Boston Farmers Market, which promotes the health of its customers, farm workers and the environment by offering sustainably grown produce, meat and eggs.

Derick sees the Community First Grant as a key opportunity to support the local community by helping to improve fresh, healthy food access. He believes that serving his community is both important and gratifying. His fellow Charlestown Store Team Members are willing and eager to support the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center throughout the grant year too.

Halli Chamberlain| Whole Body Team Leader| Nashua Store | Nashua, NH

Halli has been a Team Member for eight years, and she is excited to start a partnership with ReGenerative Roots Association. The locally led organization is nurturing a resilient and equitable local food system founded upon community, conservation and compassion. Halli looks forward to learning more about their mentorship program, which helps young farming entrepreneurs with land, resources and business guidance. She is also hoping to engage her fellow Team Members in volunteer opportunities through the grant year.

“Expanding fresh, healthy food access is important to me because I believe that good nutrition plays an integral role in the wellbeing of an individual’s life at all stages.”

Dena Cherenson | Store Support Supervisor | Fresh Pond Store | Cambridge, MA

Dena has worked for Whole Foods Market for nine years and has partnered with Groundwork Somerville for two previous Community Grant Cycles grant cycles. She looks forward to evolving this relationship because she is dedicated to improving access to fresh, healthy foods. Dena knows there are many caring Fresh Pond Team Members who feel similarly. Together, they will help amplify their partner’s efforts to advance community health.

“In my past experiences with Groundwork Somerville, everyone I met showed a true passion for their work. They were knowledgeable, caring, energetic and fun! As an organization, they have shown a consistent dedication to their mission. It felt as if we were true partners with great communication and support in all the events we worked on together.”

James Clancy | Associate Store Team Leader | Hingham Store | Hingham, MA

James, a 14-year Team Member, is passionate about giving back to his local community and supporting his grant partner Weymouth Food Pantry. This is the third time the organization has received a Community First Grant and the second year James has participated in the grant program. He transferred stores within the region and is eager boost the culture of volunteering at the Hingham store.

“Volunteering adds such a level of commitment and engagement that it can make working at Whole Foods Market more rewarding for our Team Members. My success at my prior store with our Community First Grant partner brought so many of us together. We have deeper relationships and commitments to one another, our community and Whole Foods Market.”

Erika Mercieri | Store Trainer | West Hartford Store | West Hartford, CT

While Erika’s relationship with United Methodist Church of Hartford’s Harmony Gardens is just getting started, her dedication to bringing to life the Core Value of caring for the community is longstanding. Now, as a store trainer, she feels fortunate that educating, connecting and engaging Team Members to Whole Foods Market’s community giving programs, local partnerships and the company’s commitment to expanding fresh, healthy food is part of her job.

“I want to create a space where our community knows that Whole Foods Market is more than just a grocery store—we are a network filled with passionate, caring Team Members. And I want our Team Members to feel like they have a niche when they come to work. It’s not just a job or just a paycheck, but that they can feel like they are a part of a bigger picture and goal.”

Nia Nugent-Faverman | Associate Store Team Leader | Wellesley Store | Wellesley, MA

After attending a Healthy Eating Immersion program in 2011, Nia realized how much food impacted her health and the health of her community. Previously, her lack of nutrition education and fresh, healthy options had negatively impacted her relationship with food. However, once she had both, she developed a healthier relationship with food. She wants everyone to have this too because she views food as medicine. She has been with Whole Foods Market for 15 years, but her partnership with Worcester-based Regional Environmental Council is new, and she is eager to get started.

“I want to help organize farmer’s markets and their community farms. I’m very big into urban farming and will do whatever I can to help support Regional Environmental Council’s continued growth and success!”

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 more than 30 years and has been involved with his partner About Fresh for more than five years. He began by volunteering with their mobile market, Fresh Truck, and continues taking a weekly shift when he can. This is the fourth Community First Grant for the organization.  

“I enjoy spending time and working with the other volunteers and the Fresh Truck workers. All of us are there with the common goal of helping folks get the fresh foods they need to stay healthy. It’s really rewarding to mix with this group of caring people!”

Shawn Parkhouse | Prepared Foods Chef | Portsmouth Store | Portsmouth, NH

A new local nonprofit, Portsmouth Community Garden is working to create a community space where individuals and local organizations can grow food in a peaceful, respectful and inclusive environment. Shawn is already a garden member and volunteer, so securing a Community First Grant on behalf of the organization and creating a partnership with Whole Foods Market were natural ways to amplify their efforts and help them grow.

“My goal is to bring fresh food to all those amazing people so they can eat healthy food and enjoy this beautiful thing called life.”

Bryant Pikcilingis | Associate Store Team Leader | Portsmouth Store | Portsmouth, NH

Bryant secured a Community First Grant for mobile market partner Seacoast Eat Local, a Dover-based organization working to cultivate a thriving food economy by building bridges between regional food producers and consumers. A Team Member for 15 years, Bryant has been volunteering with his partner and has seen first-hand how their mission aligns with Whole Foods Market’s Core Values. After a successful inaugural grant year with the organization, he hopes to build on this momentum by growing the partnership and tapping into Team Member volunteer enthusiasm.

Patrick Rumierz | Associate Store Team Leader | Hadley Store | Hadley, MA

By partnering with Grow Food Northampton, Patrick is returning to his roots. He grew up in Northampton—just down the road from the Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden—and that is where he learned to love gardening. He wanted to ‘give back’ to the organization by securing a Community First Grant, plans to volunteer, and once again, spend time on the land growing food.

“Serving our community healthy food is at the heart of what we do on a day-to-day basis. Access to healthy foods means access to a healthy mind, body and spirit. Not all people have the means or education to provide this for themselves. Supporting a local organization with the goal of expanding healthy food access seems like a great way to bring what we do every day in the store to our community. It will provide Team Members who participate with a fulfilling, hands-on, local experience that aligns with our Core Values.”

Melinda Saris | Specialty Associate Team Leader | Bedford Store | Bedford, NH

Previous to accepting her current role, Melinda had been a Team Member in Massachusetts for 24 years. So, her partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank is new, and she’s excited about their comprehensive programming that serves the community. This Community First Grant will support their mobile markets. This is important to Melinda because she thinks that expanding access to fresh, healthy food will contribute to better eating habits and advance community health in Bedford.

“My goal for engaging with the New Hampshire Food Bank is to become involved the community and strengthen my sense of purpose. I also hope to build camaraderie and connections with Team Members in the store.”

Alex Serrano | Associate Store Team Leader | Fresh Pond Store | Cambridge, MA

Alex has been a Team Member for 11 years and is passionate about providing fresh, healthy locally grown food to both Fresh Pond’s shoppers and his community. By securing a Community First Grant for Victory Programs, Inc. he is hoping to kick off his relationship with the organization. He is driven by the desire to build and grow strong relationships between the store and the community and hopes by supporting his partner’s community garden, Fresh Pond can help strengthen the local healthy food system. This is Victory Program’s second Community First Grant.

Debby Tamborella| Store Support Cashier | Hingham Store | Hingham, MA

A Team Member for seven years, Debby has supported her partner Friends of Holly Hill Farm for more than five years. Her goal is to continue supporting Holly Hill Farm in the best ways she can including volunteering for a range of activities and going to their farmer’s market. This is Debby’s fourth Community First Grant cycle.

“I love all the people at Holly Hill Farm—both those that work there and those that come to the programs and volunteer opportunities. I believe in their mission to be good stewards of the land, provide the healthiest organic produce and educate the community on the need to get back to basics in farming and food production.”

Northeast Region

Karen Dallett | Associate Store Team Leader | Yonkers Store | Yonkers, NY

After being with Whole Foods Market for just a year, Karen successfully secured a Community First Grant for the Bronx Community Farm Hubs. The Yonkers Store is located near the New York Botanical Gardens, which is the home base for the Bronx Community Farm Hubs, a collective community-based network made up of neighborhood community gardens and urban farms. As a member of the botanical gardens, Karen is familiar with their programs like the Bronx Community Farm Hubs and participating gardens like Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. She is impressed with the organization and how they support community members through gardening and environmental education.

“We are about getting our hands deep into the soil, maintaining gardens and harvesting the goodness that our planet gifts us for a sustainable, heathy life. As we dig deep into regenerative farming, community gardens are connectors in plant rotation, worm culture and animals contributing to the soil to create nutrient rich food.”

Taina Morales | Associate Store Team Leader | Third and 3rd Store | Brooklyn, NY

Taina has been a Team Member for 13 years and is excited to start working alongside her two community partners. We Stay/Nos Quedamos’ sustainable development includes a community garden dedicated to collective self-determination, and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice intends to transform both the people and the physical infrastructure of blighted local neighborhoods. This is the fourth grant for both Bronx-based organizations.

“I, myself, was born and raised in the Bronx. Had I not worked for Whole Foods Market, I would have no idea what healthy food was. I had no idea there were so many varieties of healthier food because it has never been easily or affordably available to our community. These organizations are great to bring that.”

Datza Pogson | Associate Store Team Leader | Midtown East Store | New York, NY

Datza has been a Team Member for two years, and she’s passionate about fulfilling Whole Foods Market’s purpose to nourish people and the planet by increasing access to quality nutrition education and sustainable solutions for healthy eating. She partnered with FamilyCook Productions, a two-time grantee, because they are working to do just that by bringing people of all ages together around delicious, affordable, fresh food to positively impact health and wellness. The organization’s nutrition education and healthy cooking classes focus on sparking positive food behaviors that foster long-lasting lifestyle changes.

“Through the Community First Grant, I want to engage the community to achieve long-term and sustainable outcomes, processes, relationships, discourse, decision-making and implementation.”

Adrian Sanchez | Associate Store Team Leader | Williamsburg Store | Brooklyn, NY

Adrian has been a Team Member for six years, and Project EATS is his first Community First Grant partner. He points out that expanding fresh, healthy food access is an extension of Whole Foods Market’s Core Values and hopes to inspire that same commitment to advancing community health across New York neighborhoods, including his own. Adrian enjoys how volunteer opportunities bring the community together. He looks forward to working with Project EATS as the organization transforms vacant lots and rooftops into neighborhood-based farms which support farm stands, pantries, prepared food and community programs that catalyze creativity and cultivate greater food sovereignty across New York City.

Margot Sansone | Whole Body Team Leader | Third and 3rd Store | Brooklyn, NY

Margot has been a Team Member for 13 years and works at a store with a reputation for strong community engagement. She believes advancing healthy food access can empower all communities to grow and prosper. To contribute to these efforts, she partnered with three area nonprofits, Queens County Farm Museum, Red Hook Initiative and United Community Centers, all of which are returning Community First Grant recipients. Her goals for engaging with these community partners during this grant cycle year are twofold: to learn and amplify. 

“I hope to learn a lot more about these programs and the best ways we can support them. I aim to volunteer with each organization at least once a month and get team members interested through the passion I have for these partners. More involvement and education mean more help in providing healthy food access within our urban food system and increased nutrition in NYC.”

Maryann Young | Prepared Foods Team Member | Third and 3rd Store | Brooklyn, NY

During her nine years with Whole Foods Market, Maryann has enthusiastically spearheaded 21 Community First Grants with 13 local organizations. Each community partner she has discovered has given her purpose and answers to why expanding fresh, healthy food access is so important. In 2022, she secured grants for these locally led organizations: Hattie Carthan Community Foodways; Hester Street Collaborative, Inc.; Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation; and Ocean Bay Community Development Corp.

“Expanding fresh, healthy food access empowers all communities to heal, grow and prosper. In my journey to find community partners whose mission align with Whole Cities Foundation’s, I was blessed to come across amazing ‘food heroes’—mainly women—determined to fight food injustice and change the despairing outlook of their community for the better. In their vision to create a healthier and stronger community, they nurture and guide with the knowledge and experience to grow and harvest fresh healthy organic food in nearby community gardens and urban farms.”

Pacific Northwest Region

Julie Lustig | Store Team Leader | West Vancouver Store | West Vancouver, BC

Julie has been a Team Member for 16 years, and she secured a Community First Grant for the Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society. The organization is dedicated to supporting the community, culture and environment of the Heiltsuk Nation, indigenous peoples in the Central Coast region of British Columbia. Qqs Projects Society’s programs, which include community gardens, seek to meet community-identified needs and uplift community-rooted strengths and leadership. The organization believes this is the path to a vibrant and resilient future for the Heiltsuk people. Julie’s approach to the partnership begins with one of Whole Cities Foundation’s Community First Principals—Seek to understand before being understood.

“My main goal is education. I know I still have so much to learn about the Heiltsuk community and culture. I would love the opportunity to be able to share this with my store and region.”

Patrick Rider | Store Support Team Leader | North Vancouver Store | North Vancouver, BC

Patrick has been a Team Member for eight years and has partnered with North Shore Neighbourhood House to support The Edible Garden Project. Their garden’s vision to “grow, teach and share” has transformed yards, parks, boulevards, rooftops and schoolyards into edible landscapes that grow fresh produce accessible to everyone in the community. Patrick looks forward to working outside in the gardens, being able to give back to the community, and learning more about food shortages and redistribution.

“Nourishing people and the planet is what drives me on a daily basis here at Whole Foods Market and The Edible Garden Project is a great community-based organization that helps promote that as well. Every citizen of Earth has a right to fresh, healthy food even though not everyone can shop at Whole Foods Market. The more access they have to healthy food, the better we will be as a planet.”

Juliette Tiger| Culture Champion Program Manager | Global Support | Seattle, WA

Juliette has been a Team Member for more than a decade and secured a second Community First Grant for Tilth Alliance to help support their mission of building a sustainable, healthy and equitable food future. She is driven by the understanding that access to healthy, fresh food is a basic human right, and health and wellness are directly connected to an individual’s access to healthy, fresh food.

“I believe it’s important to give back to my local community and support underserved populations and individuals who may not have the access and privilege that I’ve been given in life. I am excited to support this organization and the important work they are doing in my local community.”

Rocky Mountain Region

Phylicia Clutter | Store Support Associate Team Leader | Overland Park Store| Overland Park, KC

Phylicia has been a Team Member for five years and thinks that access to fresh and affordable food is crucial for communities to flourish. She is partnering with Kanbe’s Markets, which works to eliminate food insecurity by empowering individuals and providing them with healthy choices. Now that she’s secured a Community First Grant on their behalf, Phylicia wants to volunteer with them, learn more about their programs, spread the word about their efforts and develop a relationship with Whole Foods Market.

“A lot of people aren’t able to get fresh, healthy food. Kanbe’s Markets is able to make this happen for a lot of people. If we help Kanbe’s out, they could further their mission!”

Daniel Eric Isles | Store Support Training Specialist | Superior Store | Superior, CO

With nearly 25 years at Whole Foods Market, Daniel is guided by Whole Foods Market’s Core Value We care about our community and the environment. He is both a Training Specialist and Tier Two Culture Champion, so he understands that collaboration is at the heart of Whole Foods Market’s business both in and out of the store. His partner Growing Gardens works to cultivate community through sustainable agriculture, and Daniel and his fellow Team Members look forward to helping the farm from planting to harvest.

“We feel that Growing Gardens is in alignment with our Core Values, and we are looking forward to partnering with them. In addition, this partnership supports the vision of our Higher Purpose Program Community Engagement Team.”

Paige Miller | Whole Body Team Leader | Kansas City Store | Kansas City, MO

Paige, a Team Member with 12 years of experience at Whole Foods Market, sees fresh food access is vital for the health and wellbeing of her neighbors. She regularly purchases produce from her grant partner, George Washington Carver Farm, to support their efforts to expand fresh food access in the Kansas City community. Through the Community Grant Program, she looks forward to being a part of that mission and is hoping to learn more about gardening and food production through volunteer opportunities. She’s not the only Kansas City Store Team Member eager to support the farm, which is run by a former Team Member.

“Expanding access to healthy food for all our neighbors is important because it helps us fulfill our purpose to nourish people and the planet in addition to being a way for us to live out our Core Value of caring for our community.”

Southeast Region

Meg Gorman | Store Support Team Leader | Chattanooga Store | Chattanooga, TN

As Meg sets out to build a personal and store relationship with her grant partner, City Farms Grower Coalition, she is aiming to inspire other Team Members get involved in fresh, healthy food access work and create partnerships within their own communities too. She chose City Farms Grower Coalition because they’re creating meaningful community partnerships and providing hands-on training and learning opportunities to support and empower Chattanooga area residents to grow their own food, fight for food justice and develop stronger and healthier communities. It’s a match for the Community First Grant Program’s mission.

“Access to healthy and fresh foods should not depend on where someone lives or what they look like, their level of income or their level of education. Fresh foods should be accessible to all people. City Farms Grower Coalition is working to make this a reality.”

Carrie McNallie | Store Team Leader | Winston-Salem Store | Winston-Salem, NC

Share-WS Inc is organized and dedicated to providing food, nutrition education and advice, local health and food equity policy support, and more. Carrie is eager to grow a partnership with them because their mission closely aligns with Whole Foods Market’s Core Values and Whole Cities Foundation’s goals. She has been a Team Member for nine years. Now, as the Store Team Leader, she has also taken on a leadership role in this community partnership with plans to spearhead volunteer opportunities and potential site visits.

“Inequality extends beyond financial resources and dramatically affects food sources as well. Winston-Salem is known for having many food deserts that continue to keep impoverished members of our community from gaining independence.”

Paul Small | Specialty Team Member | Aventura Store | Aventura, FL

Paul has been a Team Member for three years and has been volunteering at Health in the Hood for nearly two years. The organization’s mission is to provide equal food access for all, one community garden at a time. When Paul volunteers with them, he loves knowing that he is helping families in under-resourced situations. He hopes by deepening Whole Foods Market’s commitment to Health in the Hood, the store can help enhance the organization’s ability to serve the Aventura community and expand their operations. He is also hoping to increase his volunteer hours.

“It is the honor and responsibility of those who have plenty to help those who have none. The Core Value of shared fate and helping our community was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to work for Whole Food Market, and one of the biggest reasons I stay. If we all work together, then everyone will live happier and healthier lives.”

Jason Stonicher | Store Team Leader | Mountain Brook Store | Mountain Brook, AL

Jason has been with Whole Foods Market for 16 years and has volunteered at Jones Valley Teaching Farm for more than five years. The Birmingham-based organization believes that when communities know how to grow, cook and share their food for themselves and for others, they collectively build food-resilient, healthy and connected communities. Their dedication to strengthening the local food system and supporting community self-sufficiency make them a natural fit for a Community First Grant. Jason hopes this partnership can both increase Team Members’ awareness of the community engagement opportunities that exist within their community and increase access to healthier foods.

“I believe access to fresh and healthy food is our only way to get out of the current obesity and poor health cycle.”

Shannon Warren | Whole Body Team Trainer | Mountain Brook Store | Birmingham, AL

While Shannon has been a Team Member for 12 years, she is just beginning her partnership with Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources P.E.E.R., Inc. The organization aspires to empower a thriving, diverse community in the eastern area of Birmingham through resources for healthy living, learning and working. The Community First Grant will support their farmer’s market program.

“Too many communities are underserved in this area. Financially accessible food does not have to mean bad quality or unhealthy food, and it is important in these communities that there is an advocate for healthier options.

Southern Pacific Region

Heather Baker | Whole Body Associate Team Leader | Queen Store | Honolulu, HI

Several years ago, Heather was introduced to Kahumana but only recently did she discover the scope of their community impact. She secured a Community First Grant on their behalf to help them co-create a healthy, inclusive and productive farm-based community with unhoused families, people with disabilities and youth. Heather has been a Team Member for five years and is working to fulfill Whole Foods Market’s purpose with this partnership.

“At Whole Foods Market, we ‘Nourish people and the planet,’ which we can all get behind on an individual basis. Being able to make a difference to our community outside of the store itself is incredibly fulfilling. Our island is able to be more self-sufficient, and we can see people doing their best. With assistance from a Whole Cities Foundation grant, this can become a reality on a larger scale and contribute to the health and wellbeing of our local community. That is pure Aloha.”

Marie Denny | Store Scanning Specialist | Queen Store| Honolulu, HI

A Team Member with a year of experience at Whole Foods Market, Marie was drawn to Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi because their work exists at the intersection of farm fresh produce and meaningful cultural connections with the land in ways that are both educational and rewarding. As a Tier 2 Culture Champion, she has been successful in inspiring and engaging Team Members in community-based volunteer events. She trusts that the Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi partnership will also be well supported because it’s an opportunity to give back to a community and tradition that gives so much to them.

“As a guest on these Hawaiian Islands, my main priority is giving my time back to serving the community, specifically Native Hawaiians. Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi works so hard to keep Hawaiian culture and traditions alive while checking all of the boxes of what Whole Cities Foundation is looking to support. I hope that as a team we can learn to be great stewards of this land and guests of these islands by serving and listening to the needs of Native Hawaiians.”

Southwest Region

Freddie Cavazos | Specialty Associate Team Leader| Lakewood Store | Dallas, TX

Freddie has been a Team Member for eight years and is a returning Community First Grant participant. This year, he secured grants for two locally led organizations: Oak Cliff Veggie Project and Restorative Farms. He is passionate about community engagement in Dallas and fosters relationships with local leaders and organizations that can tap into Team Members’ eagerness to help meet the needs of their community.

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 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 store involvement with Bonton Farms, 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.”

Through 2022, Team Members have nominated organizations in over 100 cities and counting! 

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