Beyond Food Rescue: Project “Feeding Goodness” Builds Community and Stability
Unhoused community members lack more than a place to live—they also have little access to wholesome food, economic opportunities, and a sense of dignity, among other challenges.
Goodness Village (GV) in Livermore, a non-profit tiny home community for people transitioning out of chronic homelessness, has a holistic approach to these intertwined issues. In addition to affordable, permanent housing, nutritious meals, and access to support services, they offer residents skill building and meaningful employment.
“We want our residents to regain health, stability, and a sense of contributing to something that improves not only their personal lives but also helps and connects them to the larger community,” says Karen Abbruscato, Director of Volunteer Engagement. GV currently has 28 single-occupancy homes, with plans to expand soon.
Food recovery for meals and a training program
With the help of a $10,000 Community Food System grant from StopWaste, they launched Feeding Goodness, a project that uses surplus food not only to offset the cost of feeding GV’s residents but also to provide the ingredients for a culinary training program and enterprise.
“The idea is to not only teach our residents how to turn surplus food into nutritious meals for themselves but also how to process, preserve and upcycle it for the Village, and eventually to sell to the local community with proceeds going back to support GV,” explains Karen. The grant funded the food storage equipment needed for this plan, including a refrigerator, freezer, and commercial grade blender. Karen projects that Feeding Goodness will serve over 30,000 meals per year, sourced from surplus foods that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Collaborating with other local nonprofits involved with food recovery, GV now receives regular deliveries of food donations, in addition to seasonal fresh produce grown at Eden Garden, another nonprofit located on the same property. Volunteers with expertise in the food industry have begun leading the cooking classes, also teaching an understanding of the larger food system and sustainable practices, such as tending GV’s on-site compost bins and how to use the finished compost in their veggie planter boxes.
Although it’s early in the process, making smoothies with blemished apples or surplus kale has already emerged as a favorite food upcycling method. Moving forward, GV hopes to expand to jams, preserves, and other specialty foods that residents can sell to the larger Tri-Valley community, for example at the downtown Livermore farmers’ market.