Mission Statement: To promote health and wellness in under-served communities through the power of healthy foods and human connection.
Groceryships is built on a fundamental belief—every life is equally important. In an unequal world, we exist to support people and families who feel forgotten, neglected, or are carrying more than they can bear.
We do this through the power of food. Food is universal, but not equitable. While every parent wants their kids to be healthy, some can’t afford nutritious food. Others lack vital nutrition education. And many need a tight-knit community to support them on their path towards health.
Groceryships is working on a macro issue in a micro way. We work with small groups of families for long periods of time, providing education, temporary financial support, resources, and a sacred space for each person to share about their struggles and triumphs. We believe true change comes not from the top down, but from the inside out, and that changes in one person can have a ripple effect through a family, a community, a city, a nation, and eventually a world.
In 1980, 45% of American adults were overweight, 15% were obese, and 9% of GDP was spent on healthcare. Today, over 70% of adults are overweight, 35% are obese, and we spend 18% of GDP on healthcare. Obesity is a contributing factor to 7 of the top 10 causes of death in America today. There’s also an emotional cost; people ashamed of their bodies; parents listening to their kids cry after being teased.
What’s causing this obesity epidemic?
A food system designed to promote the consumption of unhealthy foods and a healthcare system that benefits more from treating diseases than from preventing them.
Today’s food would be unrecognizable to our ancestors. Rather than nutritious, whole foods, most Americans eat a heavily processed diet marketed to them by massive food corporations. These corporations have spent thousands of hours in labs testing and developing the most addictive foods in the history of the world. Their success has been a catastrophe for our health. Our culture is now addicted to food-like substances filled with sugar, salt, and fat.
During this change in the food system, there have also been significant shifts in the home. Today, families spend half the amount of time in the kitchen versus 50 years ago. This is partially due to the rise of two-income families, and the rise of single-parent families.
These social changes, and the changes in the food system, affect all of us. But while it’s hard for families living in affluent communities in Los Angeles like Pacific Palisades (per capita income: $95,000) to eat healthy, it’s nearly impossible in low-income communities like South Los Angeles (per capita income: $13,000). With limited food budgets, limited access to healthy foods, less nutrition knowledge, and less spare time, poor families disproportionately suffer from diet-related health issues. In Pacific Palisades childhood obesity is 11% and the life expectancy is 85. In South Los Angeles, childhood obesity is 30% and the life expectancy is 75.
These statistics need to change. The ability to eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight shouldn’t be luxury items for the upper classes, but rather human rights shared by all. We’re committed to turning this belief into a reality.
WHAT IS A GROCERYSHIP?
A Groceryship is a scholarship for groceries. We provide a comprehensive program of nutrition education and emotional support, along with scholarships for groceries to empower families to increase health by incorporating more healthful foods into their diets. While enrolled in Groceryships, families receive support on three levels:
Educational — weekly meetings to learn nutrition, healthy cooking and shopping skills
Economic — weekly gift cards or fresh, organic produce enabling families to experiment with new nutritious, whole foods
Building Community — group support, focused on emotional eating, overcoming food addiction, and building a healthy communities
Additional resources are provided to participants during the program:
- Documentaries about food and health (Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., etc.)
- Wellness toolkit: food journal, healthy recipes, exercise strategies
- Medical screenings and ongoing tracking of health metrics such as Self-Esteem and BMI
Our 20-week program consists of weekly 2 hour meetings. In the first hour families learn the cooking, nutrition, and shopping skills necessary to increase the amounts of whole, plant-foods they eat. They learn how to prepare vegetables, make fruit/vegetable shakes, add fruit/vegetables into other foods, and otherwise prepare food in a healthy manner. They also learn skills on how to navigate an unhealthy food environment.
The second hour of each weekly meeting is structured as a support group, where we discuss the challenges and struggles of adopting a healthier diet in such an unhealthy environment. We discuss things like addictive foods (and the associated withdrawal symptoms), emotional eating, and family-specific belief systems around food. But the power of this sharing circle is less in the subjects we discuss, than in the manner in which we discuss them. We endeavor to create a safe, sacred space, where every person is respected and honored. No advice or cross-talk is allowed. Rather, this is a time where people can share what is really going on in their lives to a group of supportive listeners.
Through this potent mix of education, access and support, we are harnessing the power of whole foods, whole people and whole communities, to create health and wellness for all.