Five years from now, someone will be affected by the choice you made today. Given the power and freedom we have to make choices – we craft the content of our lives. Experiences alter our perception and lead us into making decisions that change the course of life. We don’t own our choices. Like everything else, they are moved by energy. The unseen reality is: when we change the course of our personal life, we also change the lives of family, friends, and sometimes, strangers.
Last summer, Jabari Brown found himself unemployed, trying to pass the bar exam. After failing for the third time, he decided to focus his attention on another passion: the food space.
It was a day trip to a Insight Garden Program that changed his course. He learned that gardening is a safe space for liberating inmates, even those sentenced to life without parole. One inmate shared, “I would give anything to walk down the aisle in the produce section of a grocery store.” In prison, inmates can’t access fresh produce, not even what they grow. They can only purchase candy and processed food from the commissary. It touched Brown that all inmates wanted was fresh produce. He was overcome with appreciation and gratitude realizing his freedom to grow and eat healthy food.
Brown grew up in South Los Angeles, one of California’s largest food deserts. He decided early not to be a product of his environment – having been exposed to domestic violence, drug abuse, and food insecurity. He set his intentions on a brighter future.
After graduating from University of Oregon – School of Law in 2017, with a degree in Environmental Policy, Brown returned home and started showing up to the LA Food Policy Council meetings. He met Nancy Beyda, Founder and Executive Director of FoodCycle LA. She handed him her business card and said, “let’s talk.” Beyda’s model for connecting excess food to those in need was innovative. He appreciated her drive towards the food space and collecting tangible input for the work being performed.
Three years later, life has come full circle for Brown, Outreach and Partner Manager at FoodCycle LA and now Chair of LAFPC’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Working Group. However, it’s his role at Hack for L.A. that is most critical to FoodCycle’s mission in fighting hunger.
Making an Impact.
Hack for L.A recently rolled out it’s Food Oasis Free Food Directory that virtually connects food seekers in Los Angeles with food distribution centers. It’s a free open resource for food insecure individuals and non-profits not integrated within the food space. The database serves a dual purpose: Engages the community in receiving food and creates visibility of partners to effectively distribute food.
Food Oasis’s search tool operates in similar fashion to Google. Food seekers enter their location which populates a list of food banks, pantries, farmers markets, and fruit trees. For less tech savvy and vulnerable populations, like seniors, Food Oasis will link them to consultants to help locate food resources.
FoodCycle will be the first to integrate the Food Oasis database into its operations. “So much of what FoodCycle is doing can be shared with other cities,” Brown say’s. FoodCycle recovers and diverts 200,000 pounds of food each month.