Foodwise Wishes You a Happy, Healthy, and Nourishing New Year

December 29, 2023

As 2023 winds down, we could not be more grateful for you, our beloved friends and food community, for another full and fulfilling year at Foodwise.

Sometimes it is only in hindsight that you see what defined a year. At Foodwise, 2021 was about pandemic adaptation and survival. 2022 was becoming Foodwise and living into our new name, and bringing back our public cooking demos.

When charting 2023 and all that we wanted to accomplish, our baseline was to keep doing what you depend on us for, and do it well: operating four weekly farmers markets, running our youth and adult education programs, and keeping our food access programs strong. A bonus was bringing back our evening talks, which had been on pause during the pandemic.

Most of all, 2023 was defined by formalizing our Building Equity program, which supports early-stage BIPOC, immigrant, and limited-resource food entrepreneurs as they build their businesses. Starting in collaboration with the kitchen incubator La Cocina more than 15 years ago, the program began with entrepreneurs popping up at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to sell their delicious products. Over the years, it has expanded as Foodwise has deepened our racial equity commitment and community partnerships. 

Now working with En2action, La Cocina, Mandela Partners, and SF Black Wealth, we provide market opportunities and business development resources for dozens of BIPOC entrepreneurs to market-test and sell their products while building their customer base at Foodwise markets. This year, we also hosted four popular Pop-Ups on the Plaza events, bringing attention and revenue to Bay Area Black-owned businesses, featuring many of our Building Equity participants and other local businesses.

Your support and partnership are critical in building a sustainable, equitable, and nourishing food future. Look back at what we accomplished together in 2023:

  • We hosted 189 markets at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Mission Community Market, supporting more than 138 local farms and food businesses and providing fresh, local food access for thousands of Bay Area residents.
  • We formalized our Building Equity program, providing a platform for 36 BIPOC vendors popping up at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Two of those businesses, Mangosay and Gumbo Social, became permanent Foodwise vendors.
  • We hosted our first series of 4 Pop-Ups on the Plaza events, featuring 45 Black food and craft entrepreneurs and directing thousands of dollars to their businesses.
  • We provided fresh, healthy food access at Foodwise farmers markets and distributed more than $135,000 in CalFresh EBT and $96,000 in Market Match nutrition assistance benefits to Bay Area residents on a budget. 
  • Through our Foodwise Kids program, 2,045 SFUSD elementary school students learned about healthy, seasonal food. We hosted 102 field trips at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and virtually, 13 in-school cooking classes, and 4 family cook nights.
  • Through our Foodwise Teens paid youth development program, 92 SFUSD high school students learned about food justice and developed important life and job skills. Seventeen of them deepened their job experience through our summer fellowship program, and 2 program graduates were hired by our farmers.
  • We hosted 33 public cooking demos at the Foodwise Classroom, including 20 BIPOC chefs such as Pierre Thiam, Kristina Cho, Sana Javeri Kadri, and Tiffany Carter. Watch their demos and find their recipes online. 
  • We also hosted 16 education stations to engage kids and families at the farmers market.
  • We brought our community together for 4 Foodwise Talks on themes such as Building Equity for Black Entrepreneurs and The True Cost of Food.
  • Last but not least, 239 volunteers and interns gave more than 3,660 hours supporting Foodwise’s programs!

Behind all of these bullet points and statistics are a whole lot of conversations, introspection, and decisions made with our shared values in mind: sustainability, equity, community, and care. Because at the end of the day it is not numbers, but people that we are focused on, in our markets, education programs, and team. 

And of course, there is YOU. Whether you donate to support small farms and food access, volunteer your time in our education programs, or show up to support local farms and food makers at our farmers markets, you make this work possible by participating in the regenerative and people-centered food system we need.

Thank you for helping us bring this work to life. We are an organization rooted in community service. We are an ecosystem and a web of support to one another, and are so grateful to you all for being a part of it. We look forward to continuing our work together in 2024, and wish you a happy, healthy, and nourishing New Year!

In gratitude,

Your friends at Foodwise

Back row: Rebecca, Calliope, Lulu, Jameil; Middle row: Tiffany, Jasmine, Nesley, Selina, Andrea, Deven, Tommy; Bottom row: Christine, Cindy, Brie; Not pictured: Ashley, Jeff, Margaux, Noah, Pablo.  Photo by Natalie Ngo.