Groceryships 2015 Q1 Update

I’m writing to update you on our progress through the 1st Quarter of 2015, and to do that I thought I’d tell you a little about Ana Guzman.

The first time I met Ana, she apologized for wasting my time. She’d started coming to Groceryships’s free community yoga class with her friend, Yohana Funes, a member of our pilot group. Ana liked the yoga classes; she applied—and was accepted—into the second Groceryships group. 

That’s where I met her—the first day of our 2nd group. During the “check-in,” where participants talk about whatever is going on in their lives, which is how every Groceryships meeting begins, Ana said a sentence or two about how exhausted and stressed she was from taking care of her five kids. After talking for no more than 10 seconds, she apologized for taking up too much time...

Here is a picture of Ana from that time:

At every Groceryships meeting, a box of Kleenex is placed in the middle of the circle, for when people cry. But because participants are initially strangers, the box of Kleenex doesn’t usually get used in the first couple of meetings. But in the 2nd meeting of that 2nd group, during the “Sharing Circle,” the part of the Groceryships meetings where participants share on an emotional topic, Ana burst into tears. I can’t tell you what she said, because the meetings are confidential, but I can say that the courage she showed that day in making herself vulnerable had a profound effect. Several other participants cried that day, and by the end of the meeting a collection of strangers had become a cohesive group. 

Over the next six months, Ana learned about nutrition, the food system, and how to shop for and cook healthy meals. She worked on label reading and food budgeting. But mostly what she did is she worked on herself. She found support and friendship within her group, and she used that to begin changes in her own life. She started exercising, eating better. She started teaching Zumba classes to other Groceryships participants.

One day she came to me and said she’d like to start a Groceryships group at the elementary school her kids attend. She arranged a meeting between me and the principal, recruited 10 new participants, and almost single-handedly launched the 1st Spanish-speaking Groceryships group. Even more importantly, Ana agreed to co-lead that new group. Paired with volunteer health coach Brenda Lomeli, Ana is now the co-leader of the Normandie Elementary Groceryships group—she teaches the healthy cooking section each week.

Groceryships is about health and wellness, but really it’s empowerment on a spiritual and emotional level. The things that people can accomplish when surrounded by a supportive group with a shared goal, is mind-boggling. At Groceryships, we are both proud of and grateful for Ana, who has become a truly critical part of our team. Here’s a recent picture of Ana:


And now for some updates: 

2nd Graduation – Groceryships graduated its second group (including Ana) on March 18th, 2015. Tavis Smiley graciously participated as our guest speaker at graduation.  

New Groups – Groceryships has launched 4 new groups in the first quarter of 2015: Normandie Elementary, John Muir Middle School, LA Job Corps, and a new one at Manual Arts High School.

New Partnerships – Groceryships is thrilled to announce three major partnerships. Farm Fresh To You is bringing local, organic produce directly to our families at a deeply generous discount. Luvo is donating healthy frozen meals. And Food Forward has coordinated the donation of fresh, farmers market produce to Groceryships families. All these partnerships are bringing new, healthy food into South LA either free of charge, or at affordable prices.

New Board Member – Groceryships is honored to welcome actor DW Moffett to our Board of Directors.

New Circle of Advisors – Groceryships is honored to welcome Dr. Robert Whitman, principal of Manual Arts High School, and Alex Dorsey, founder of e-Roots, to our Circle of Advisors.

New Hire – Groceryships is thrilled to announce the hiring of a new Program Director, Dana Rizer. Dana brings an incredible skillset to the table, from her Masters in Food Studies from NYU, to her culinary arts training from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, to her master yoga-teaching skills.

Social Food Enterprise – Groceryships has made significant strides on our social food enterprise. We’ve been making progress with menu development, initiated a food production partnership, distributed surveys to collect customer data, run a taste test demo in South LA, and are participating in an upcoming social enterprise expo at UCLA. Momentum is picking up and we’re excited about how everything is coming along.

Media Coverage -- ABC7 did a great spot about Groceryships...view it here!

Spring Dinner – Groceryships hosted a Spring Dinner at Back on Broadway restaurant in Santa Monica, thanks to owner Fred Deni. With food donated from Coastal Farms, Rutiz Farms, Schaner Family Farms, prepared by Chef Daniel Polk, and a presentation about Groceryships by yours truly, the night was a spectacular success.

So, that’s where we are. Thank you again for all your support. We are deeply grateful. Please feel free to call or email me. And if you have a little extra money this month, we’d love it if you’d donate a bit to Groceryships, so we can continue facilitating healthy transformations like Ana’s.


Sam Polk, Executive Director