Since our humble beginnings, Oliver’s has been committed to supporting the local community through an emphasis on food produced by local, small businesses. Part of that commitment has been a continued support of organizations dedicated to building community and to caring for those who are all-too-frequently forgotten. This week, we’re featuring one such partner front and center – the Ceres Community Project!
Ceres is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of the individual as well as the community through wholesome, nutritious foods. They have several areas on which they focus: providing healthful meals for those who are struggling with income due to a serious or chronic illness; encouraging health education and personal growth in youth by working closely with teen volunteers; and making health and healthful eating accessible to the wider community through education and replication. While this might seem like quite the range of services, the core of the Ceres Project lies in their food philosophy. They believe that the best way to address both illness and community wellness is rooted in food that is as natural as possible.
Now, “natural food” can be a bit slippery to define, so let’s break down what they actually mean. Ceres uses foods that are as fresh as possible, which preserves nutrients that are vital to both maintaining and improving health. These include enzymes, trace vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and more; they believe that for food to have the maximum nutritional impact, it has to be as close to its natural state as they can get it. This is also why they only use organic, locally produced foods – Ceres understands that foods produced without chemicals and with limited human interference produce the greatest positive impact for both individual health and the environment in which the food is grown. Ceres Project focuses on meals specifically designed to boost the immune systems of cancer patients going through treatments; they follow the American Institute of Cancer Research’s healthy plate format, where 2/3 of the plate is made up of plant-based foods, all without the use of added sugar to help prevent blood sugar spikes. They are also committed to the quality of the meats and dairy they cook with, and Ceres chooses to work with farms that are committed to providing a superior quality of life for the animals with whom they work.
Ceres’ overall philosophy on health extends to an understanding that the health of the individual is boosted by a strong support network among the community. This is expressed partially through their personal delivery of meals to clients, but it is also achieved through their wide array of community outreach programs. Ceres is proud to offer classes for anyone who would like to learn about the impact of healthful eating and lifestyle choices on one’s quality of life. From symptom management to the foundations of healthy cooking, the classes offered by Ceres are a means to begin making a connection between one’s body and what one puts into it, and always with a focus on improving the overall health of the community at large. Ceres also works with a variety of volunteers, many of whom are teens from the communities where their centers are located; they understand the desire of young people to give back and encourage this by placing teen chefs in charge of meal preparation from the farm to the table. This gives the teens a chance to practice skills such as teamwork and communication while also educating them on making healthy lifestyle choices of their own; whether working in the kitchen or the Ceres Project’s community garden, these teens are completely involved in the process. Ceres even has two teen representatives serving on their board at all times, allowing their youth volunteers the chance to exercise the qualities necessary to become future community leaders.
Volunteering at any age is an incredibly rewarding experience, and Ceres is always looking for those willing to help. Volunteers can choose to take on a variety of duties through Ceres Project such as meal delivery, food procurement, kitchen assistance, gardening, event planning, and much more. For those with professional kitchen experience or with significant gardening experience, volunteers also have the opportunity to become mentors to teens and help them expand their skills in those areas. Ceres encourages replication of their model by other organizations, and they are proud to be affiliated with many sister projects around the country; they even offer four-day training courses for anyone looking to copy their model and become an affiliate!
Ceres is the Roman goddess of the agriculture and fertility, and the Ceres Community Project embodies that spirit of community growth through food. Together with Oliver’s Markets and many other supporters, they are constantly working to foster relationships in and around the community as well support individual health through natural foods and education. Check out their volunteer opportunities to begin making a difference today, or come in and try our new Oliver’s Own Mycopia Mushroom Enchiladas. Made in-house with gourmet mushrooms grown in Sebastopol, $1 from every sale will be donated to support the Ceres Project. Remember – at Oliver’s, when you support us, we support them!
Interested in volunteering with Ceres? Click HERE for adult volunteering opportunities, or HERE for teens! If you’d like to learn more about the Ceres Community Project and others like it, click HERE.