We know that your inbox and social media feed are full of appeals on this Big Day of Giving. As you consider which organizations you will support with your gifts this year, we hope you will consider us at Alchemist CDC.  To that end, we have compiled a long list of (some) of what we have been up to:

  1. After years of development, our Pansy Avenue Community Garden Park in Oak Park is finally open for neighbors to use and enjoy! While a few final elements remain to be installed and our grand opening celebration will be scheduled for this summer, we are delighted to see this formerly vacant lot put to use by the families who live nearby and the 9 garden plots being reserved.


  2. You may recall that we successfully applied for a major grant for the Oak Park Art Garden in 2021. The funds in that grant have been slow moving, but things are beginning to move. As of last month, we now own the Art Garden property! We look forward to the next steps as the site is developed into a fully accessible garden park capable of hosting community gatherings and more!


  3. The first residents began moving into Mirasol Village in Sacramento’s River District one year ago, and we have been on the ground every week helping to manage the community garden, recruit new gardeners, mobilize volunteers, and bring programming to the garden. We will continue this work for the next year and a half–at least–as we work to organize gardener residents into a committee that can manage the community garden themselves.


  4. As you may know, the River District is (for the time being) a food desert, with very limited access to fresh produce for residents at Mirasol Village, Cannery Place, etc. We have worked with We Grow Urban Farms to open a bi-weekly farm stand that accepts CalFresh/EBT and offers Market Match bonus dollars right by Mirasol Village housing!


  5. Alchemist CDC is proud to be one of the inaugural host sites for the new #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program. The College Corps builds on the model of Americorps and provides substantial funding to local college students who work with host site nonprofits throughout the year. We have benefited greatly from the students assisting in our gardens, farmers’ markets, and food entrepreneurship program and believe they have received an impactful experience as well. Our participation has also given us the opportunity to provide substantial feedback on the new College Corps program to help ensure it has a long and successful future.


  6. Similarly, we have had the chance to work with several pre-med students from California Northstate University who have volunteered with us as part of their service-learning class. We have appreciated these students and have had the chance to speak to their class on a couple of occasions. We are excited at the prospect of these future medical professionals pursuing their practice with firsthand experience seeing the critical role that anti-hunger work and local food systems play in public health.


  7. We are delighted to see the return of the Capitol Mall Farmers’ Market (yesterday, 5/3) and Natomas Farmers’ Market (coming up on 5/13) for the season! We are back at both markets providing CalFresh/EBT access and Market Match incentives.


  8. In 2022, we set an all time record for ourselves by distributing more than $1 million in CalFresh/EBT and Market Match incentives at 8 farmers’ markets in the Sacramento region! These are funds that purchased nutritious fresh food for food-insecure neighbors and supported local farmers and producers. From January to March 2023, we have so far distributed $116,091 in CalFresh and $77,341 in Market Match!


  9. Two of the farmers’ markets we serve (Country Club Plaza in Arden and Sunrise Light Rail Station in Rancho Cordova) were the first in the state to launch the Fruit and Veggie Pilot for the California Department of Social Services! We are proud to be on the frontlines testing a different approach to nutrition incentives and welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the pilot program’s strengths and weaknesses that can help shape its future.


  10. Our CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets Program Manager, Emma Burke, is using her unique experience making farmers’ markets more equitable and accessible to help inform broader statewide work. She has recently joined the Steering Committee for the California Alliance of Farmers’ Markets and the State of California’s Certified Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee. We are excited for the Sacramento region to be represented on these committees through her and look forward to increased conversation and mutual learning with other experts across the state.


  11. We are thrilled to share that a new collaborative project with Paratransit, Inc., and Meals on Wheels by ACC launches today! People to Produce is an exciting new pilot project meant to connect older adults experiencing food insecurity and a lack of reliable transportation in South Sacramento to the delicious groceries available at the Florin Road Farmers’ Market. Participants will be picked up by dedicated Paratransit shuttles and taken to the Florin Road Farmers’ Market. Alchemist CDC staff will punch their cards and distribute $20 in vouchers to each participant each week to be spent on groceries at the market. Participants will be recruited by Meals on Wheels, which will also be funding the vouchers. After shopping, participants will ride back to Pannell Community Center on another Paratransit shuttle. The shuttles will also have some additional space for members of the public, family and friends of program participants, etc. We hope this three year pilot project becomes a model for the creation of transit bridges to address food deserts across the country!


  12. With support from the City of Sacramento’s inaugural Food Justice grants, we will be expanding CalFresh/EBT access to additional farmers’ markets within the CIty boundaries this year! Keep an eye out for announcements about these markets!


  13. Recognizing that there was no central source to find accurate, comprehensive information on farmers’ markets and farm stands in Sacramento and Yolo Counties, we created a Farmers’ Market Guide with all the tools you need to start shopping with local producers!


  14. You may recall that we co-sponsored Senate Bill 907 with NextGen Policy last year with Dr. Pan as our bill author. After months of ardent advocacy and grassroots organizing, we saw SB 907 signed into law last September, becoming the Local Equitable Access to Food (LEAF) program! This policy exists to create non-competitive grants that will bring high-quality CalFresh/EBT access to every certified farmers’ market in the state. Unfortunately, the policy was not funded last year despite becoming law. We have continued to advocate this year for funding to launch the program and maintain a strong coalition across the state with Sen. Angelique Ashby and Asm. Isaac Bryan as our budget champions. We will continue to organize and advocate for this policy until funding is secured!


  15. Our work on SB 907 was an important first step for Alchemist to become more actively involved in advocacy for state policies addressing hunger and sustainable food systems. We officially joined the California Food and Farming Network (CFFN) and are excited to partner with dozens of other organizations across the state speaking up on important issues.


  16. On a more local level, our Executive Director, Sam Greenlee, has joined the Steering Committee for the Sacramento Food Policy Council and is eager to become more deeply engaged with food policy work within our region.


  17. Recognizing that food insecurity is increasing once again with inflation and an end to emergency allotments for SNAP/CalFresh, we worked with partners to create a food resource map of the region. Likewise, we’ve put together a political boundary map for the Sacramento region that allows you to filter districts for city councils, county supervisors, state legislators, congress, school districts, and more! We hope these tools will help more of our neighbors and partners to effectively engage on important local issues.


  18. We are presently in Week 9 of our 8th cohort of the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy and have 16 businesses on track to graduate the program later this month!


  19. We have 22 businesses in the Alchemist Kitchen Incubator Program. Since the program launched the average sales of a business in the program has grown more than 60% year over year.


  20. Since the Alchemist Kitchen program launched, we have served over 180 entrepreneurs. Of these, 73% are entrepreneurs of color, 65% are low-income entrepreneurs, 65% are women, 23% are LGBTQIA+, 19% are disabled, and 4% are veterans.


  21. Our Incubator businesses are selling delicious food all over town, including: Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (products from 4 different AKIPers), Midtown Farmers’ Markets (9 AKIPers participating!), Natomas Farmers’ Market, Davis Food Co-op, Placerville Co-op, Rancho San Miguel, Strapping Stores, Warehouse Creative, Constellation Marketplace and more!


  22. The first ever State of California Philanthropy Summit was hosted this April by Gov. Newsom’s office. Three Alchemist Kitchen Incubator Program Businesses were asked to cater the event for the gathered philanthropists. Fresh roasted coffee was provided by Black Coffee Roastery, an assortment of breakfast baked goods was provided by Southern Hospitality Eats, and a custom paella lunch was prepared on site by Hooked On Paella.


  23. We have over 25 businesses working out of our commercial kitchen facility, providing the most affordable shared-use kitchen space in the area.


  24. Alchemist recently acquired our first brand-new food trailer and an announcement will be coming soon about an Alchemist Kitchen Incubator business launching in that trailer!


  25. In the early months of 2023, we submitted major federal and state grant applications to fund the construction of Alchemist Public Market! This would have not been possible without the contribution of an additional $400,000 in matching funds which were secured this year, including $200,000 from Sutter Health! We have a good feeling about these grants and hope to have news to share soon!


  26. Community Connections began in the early days of the pandemic as a partnership among several institutions to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable households in 95820. It has matured over time and now Alchemist staff and volunteers prepare bags of fresh, local produce and pantry staples and deliver them once a week to the doorsteps of 28 food-insecure families in south Sacramento. After recently establishing a partnership with Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and SCUSD, we are expanding to create a food pantry that will be available to families referred by SCUSD homeless services staff throughout the school district.


  27. We’ve been working hard on the return of our Root Down, Rise Up fundraiser dinner which will be held on the evening of Thursday, May 18, at Oak Park Brewing Co. We invite you to purchase tickets (use discount code “BDOG” today only for $10 off per ticket) and join us for a delicious evening celebrating local food and supporting our work. More than half of our tickets are sold out, so act fast if you’d like to join us!

As you can see from this sampling of our work, our team is keeping busy connecting communities to land, food, and opportunity. We need the support of donors like you to continue with these impactful programs. While we are strategic in pursuing major grant funding, your gifts make up our unrestricted funds that allow us to try new projects, advocate for better policy, write and develop grant applications, grow relationships across the region that will grow into future partnerships, and so much more. If you can support us today with a gift of any amount, please know that we will ensure it makes a difference!