Alameda County farm provides jobs, access to healthy food for low-income families

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ByMelissa Pixcar KGO logo
Monday, December 14, 2020
East Bay farm provides healthy food and jobs to local residents
San Leandro's Dig Deep Farms is providing healthy food and jobs to people living in the community. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office partnered with Deputy Sheriff's Activities League to create the social enterprise.

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- During the 2020 pandemic winter, Dig Deep Farms in San Leandro is providing healthy food and jobs to people living in the community.

In 2010, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in conjunction the Deputy Sheriff's Activities League created Dig Deep farms and operates as a social enterprise. It began as two small farms and has expanded to three farms and a food hub in San Leandro.

Dig Deep Farms grows a variety of vegetables using a regenerative farming method. The farm works closely with local health clinics, who prescribes vegetables as medicine and provides bags filled with produce to 500 patients.

"Clinics in partnership with ALL IN screen patients for dire related conditions, like diabetes or cardio vascular diseases. They prescribe Dig Deep Farms produce as the medicine," said Hilary Bass, Senior Program Specialist. "After sixteen weeks of getting this food delivered and consumed they have significant health impacts and outcomes."

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The farms offers a six-week internship program to local residents and those re-entering society from the justice system. "Economic development is such an important part of what we do," said Bass. "One of the greatest ways to prevent recidivism, as in people going back to jail, is to create employment opportunities."

Patrick Worrell-Facey is a supervisor at Dig Deep Farms and believes this job opportunity is his second chance.

"It's a second chance to write my story over in the right direction," said Worrell-Facey. "This job, feel like giving back. Before, I was tearing down the community so now I am making sure that they eat."

The farm's newest addition, the Food Hub is a "community commercial kitchen and distribution center" that opened in January of 2020. The Food Hub helps local food entrepreneurs expand their businesses and assists Dig Deep Farms by preparing healthy meals for low-income residents living in food deserts.

"Ever since corona happened, making that pivot to where a lot of people did lose their brick-and-mortar," said Jasmin Castaneda , Small Business Liaison at Dig Deep Farms. "This has been a space for so many people that have been able to continue to have their business, have a livelihood, and make money, and not only to have their family feed, but the community."

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The Food Hub provides 6,000 healthy meals to low-income families and to COVID positive residents. The Deputy Sheriff's Activities League works closely with ALL IN to prevent food waste. The hub is an aggregation center for food recovery and distribution. Dig Deep employees deliver the food to help combat food insecurity within the community.

"I am in a part of Oakland that is a grocery ghetto. There are no grocery stores nearby," said Paula Marie-Parker, recipient of Dig Deep Farms. "I do need produce, but Dig Deep Farms is making that happen."

During the pandemic, the Food Hub has had to pivot to a no-contact food drive to 400 families. "COVID has thrusts us into this level of production and distribution that none of us were anticipating," said Bass.

The Food Hub offers free groceries on Friday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit the Dig Deep Farms website.

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