2. Vallejo Healthy Food Festival
On Sunday, June 26, F.E.P. released our study of healthy food access in Vallejo, California. To mark the occasion, we held an enormously successful, informative, and fun event, celebrating the culture and resilience of Vallejo residents. Nearly 300 people gathered to hear about the study, listen to local musicians, watch local performers, and dine together, enjoying a diverse array of vegan food.
With numerous booths lining the community center -- offering information on veganism, the legal rights of immigrants, the Vallejo People's Garden, and even the local library -- we heard from F.E.P. founder and Executive Director lauren Ornelas about the study's findings. The situation in Vallejo for low-income communities of color is dire. We also heard from local policymakers, including former Assemblyperson and candidate for California Senate Mariko Yamada, City Council member and Vallejo Mayoral candidate Bob Sampayan, and candidate for Vallejo City Council and founder/director of Diaz & Loera Centro Latino, Mina Diaz, as well as Solano Board of Supervisors Member Erin Hannigan.
One piece of information we shared that we'll be taking action on is that when the local Safeway moved to the suburbs, Safeway Corporation put a deed on the property preventing another grocery store from moving in for 15 years. As a result, the area around the former Safeway showed even less access to healthy food than other low-income areas. We've been in touch with Safeway about this outrageous act that has serious health impacts on local communities. Keep an eye out for more information in future newsletters!
Despite the injustices revealed in our study, we still found time to celebrate the people of Vallejo. Ballet Folklorico Vallejo, Haluan Club of Jesse Bethel High School, and Pilipino American Cultural Club of American Canyon High School performed traditional dances; 11-year-old The Voice Mexico contestant and Vallejo resident Esmeralda amazed us with her singing and we enjoyed the musical talents of AshEL and Azuah; and local vegan entrepreneur Chef Chew entertained the audience with two vegan cooking demonstrations. Throughout the day, vegan food kept coming and coming, representing culinary traditions as diverse as the Vallejo community itself.
This was the first vegan event for many attendees, including the local policy makers in attendance, and they loved it!
Our heartfelt thanks go out to our event coordinator Maria Guevara for all of her work and to Sonya Russell for cooking all of the delicious food! Thanks also go out to VegFund for providing money for the ingredients. And, of course, a big thank you to our volunteers and donors whose support made this event possible.
We garnered some incredible media coverage too! Read all about the event in The Times-Herald News, the Daily Republic here and here, and Benicia Herald.
We're so grateful to the people of Vallejo for turning out. We look forward to continuing to work with this vibrant community for equity and justice.