This woman was struggling to find fresh food. She never expected this solution.
True
The Rockefeller Foundation

How do you get healthy food on the table when you can't find any?

This is a question that Ortilia Lujan Flores had grappled with many times before.

She wanted affordable, nutritious food, but lived in a neighborhood that didn’t have an accessible grocery store.


Flores couldn't drive, which limited the few food options she had. "There was nowhere to go," she explains.

All images via Upworthy.

Flores isn't the only one that's struggled with this problem — 41 million Americans don't have consistent access to nutritious food.

But when she moved to Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, she discovered a nonprofit that made all the difference.

This nonprofit is called The GrowHaus, and it takes a community-led approach to tackling food insecurity by giving neighbors the tools they need to improve their access food.

The GrowHaus knew that their community's challenges went far beyond a lack of grocery stores. They looked at everything from local food production to food waste and education, and they found that the issues residents were struggling with all seemed to be connected.

Food rescue is changing this neighborhood

They recover and deliver nutritious food to community members that need it most. For free. 🙌

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, August 30, 2018

To address the food crisis in their community, then, they needed to think bigger.

That's why The GrowHaus partnered with Denver Food Rescue, an organization that rescues food from donors (like stores and restaurants). Volunteers travel by bike and deliver that rescued food to The GrowHaus, where volunteers then distribute it to local families — ensuring it can be eaten rather than thrown away.

And that's no small potatoes. According to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, there's great potential to expand food rescue in Denver.

The NRDC found that under optimal conditions, 4,232 tons of additional food could be rescued each year — equivalent to 7.1 million meals — from retail, institutional and restaurant locations within the city. When organizations like The GrowHaus take advantage of rescued food, everybody wins.

But that was just the beginning of their efforts. The GrowHaus also wanted to ensure that residents like Flores could actually access fresh food more conveniently, too.

So they established a neighborhood market, Mercado de al Lado, which has fresh produce as well as meat and dairy products, most of which is organic and/or local. The market uses a tiered pricing system to ensure that the food is accessible to everyone, including SNAP recipients.

"I saw that they sell organic, nutritious things," Flores explains. She was surprised to see this kind of food in her neighborhood, especially after struggling to find it for so long.

The GrowHaus also has a solution for residents, like Flores, who can't drive to the market. They offer a weekly food box filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and dry goods sourced from as many local farms as possible and deliver right to their doors at affordable prices.

"It has what people need," Flores says. "Vegetables, potatoes, sometimes they bring eggs. So, things that nourish us."

If you're not a cooking aficionado, The GrowHaus also offers weekly bilingual cooking classes. Every week, volunteer nutritionists teach residents about the importance of healthy eating and how to prepare different foods.

After sharing a meal together, participants get to fill a box with produce to take home from The GrowHaus' free food pantry. By sharing unsold produce from their market, The Growhaus helps to ensure the sustainability of their own food system.

The GrowHaus is even growing their own food and empowering other residents to do the same.

They now have multiple urban farms, all of which focus on sustainability and education.

There's a hydroponics farm, which grows plants in a nutrient solution or in eco-friendly perlite or gravel instead of soil. The farm produces around 1,200 heads of leafy greens per week but manages to use 90% less water than a conventional farm.

They also have a seedling nursery to help residents establish their own gardens. And for community members still working on their green thumbs, there's a Growasis — a permaculture farm. Here, residents can also learn more about sustainable practices, like how to compost or even raise chickens.

"They are always looking at what we need," Flores explains.

Tackling food insecurity isn't easy. But thanks to organizations like The GrowHaus, people like Flores are able to create their own solutions.

Community members in Elyria-Swansea are now growing their own food, educating one another about nutrition, feeding their neighbors, and best of all, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, no matter who they are.

Up to 40% of food is wasted in the United States, yet millions of people are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Redistributing just 15% of the food that is currently discarded could feed 25 million people.

And The GrowHaus hopes that by modeling that impact, they'll show what is possible for communities around the country.

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot – or will not.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

Keep Reading Show less