We serve as the facilitating organization for the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative (SDCOI). We hosted the SDCOI All-Partner Convening on September 15th, 2023 at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City. This event highlighted the incredible collaboration and community engagement taking place across San Diego County to address childhood obesity.

Pamela Gray Payton, the Vice President and Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer at the San Diego Foundation (SDF), shared insights into SDF’s commitment to support food security and food sovereignty, particularly in underserved and low-income communities. Earlier this year, SDF awarded $5.5 million in grants to strengthen sustainable food production, equitable distribution, and food security in San Diego County. Four grant recipients, who are also SDCOI partners, took the stage to express gratitude and discuss the impact these funds will have in their communities:

  • Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, represented by Claire Groebner, inspires individuals of all ages to become healthy and active citizens through initiatives like the Kitchenistas® Community Engagement Program, food access and nutrition programs, and cooking classes.
  • Christina Abuela and Carlos Alessandrini of Leah’s Pantry shared their mission, which revolves around promoting healthy living and preventing diet-related diseases by providing nutrition education and support. Their commitment lies in empowering individuals and families to make healthier food choices, develop cooking skills, and gain a greater understanding of nutrition.
  • Greg McGuire spoke on behalf of +BOX, an organization initially formed to help families access nutritious foods during the pandemic. Today, they provide hundreds of boxes filled with fresh, nutrient-rich food to students at local schools in Oceanside and their families, emphasizing nutrition, accessibility, and sustainability.
  • Representing SunCoast Market Co-op, Brooke Truesdael envisions a full-service cooperative grocery store in Imperial Beach, California, owned and operated by the local community. Their goal is to create a healthier community with access to quality food through a vibrant and welcoming market, offering local and organic products at affordable prices.

The event concluded with a networking session, creating space for attendees to connect with each other and learn more about the work of these four amazing organizations. Guests enjoyed refreshments catered by the Kitchenistas®, featuring freshly harvested ingredients from Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.


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