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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Ceres Community Project

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Food, Health, Health Support, Nutrition

Mission: We create health for people, communities and the planet through love, healing food and empowering the next generation. Key facets of our approach include: ♥ Supporting individuals dealing with serious illness with free, delivered and nutrient-rich prepared meals, nutrition education, and a community of caring. ♥ Involving young people as volunteer gardeners and chefs, giving them direct, hands-on experience of the difference that fresh, healthy foods and community make, and of their own capacity to contribute. ♥ Educating the broader community, including health professionals, about the connection between fresh, healthy food, strong social networks, healing and wellness. ♥ Connecting people of all ages and from all walks of life to one another, and to their value as an integral part of the community.

Results: More than 2,400 young people have received over 75,000 hours of learning and mentoring in our three kitchens in Sonoma and Marin counties. 3,500 families in health crisis, most of them very low-income, have been nourished with 550,000 healing meals and a community of caring, often making long-term changes to their diets to help them stay healthy. Ceres has trained 13 additional communities to replicate the Healing Meals model across the country, and reached millions of people with information on the connection between food and the health of individuals and the environment that sustains us.

Target demographics: Create health for people, communities and planet, through love, healing food and empowering the next generation

Direct beneficiaries per year: 642 families facing a health crisis like cancer with free and low-cost, delivered healing meals. 437 teens gained job, leadership and life skills, and discovered their power to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

Geographic areas served: Sonoma, Marin and Alameda counties (California)

Programs: Healing Meals Program, Teen Chef & Gardener Program, Teen Leader Program

Community Stories

120 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our son learned so much about cooking and gardening trough Ceres while also gaining self confidence and learning about responsibility and helping others. What a wonderful organization to have in our community!

Dianne25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ceres was there for me when I was recovering from cancer surgery. I try to be there for them whenever I can.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am receiving good and delicious food at a time in my life when I don't have the energy to cook. I a person who is low income I am eligible for free food programs. The difference between Ceres and and all the other programs is that all the food from Ceres is organic and not loaded with sugar as are most other prepared foods. All the food I get from Ceres supports my health. I have also been able to maintains a healthy weight while eating their food.

Client Served

Rating: 5

After 18 weeks of chemo, surgery, and 5 weeks of daily radiation, friends and co-workers gifted me several months of home-delivered, nutritious, and delicious food. I was assigned a personal helper to guide me through the process. The information provided regarding healing foods was very helpful and could easily be incorporated and integrated into my "traditional" treatment. I also appreciated that clients were always encouraged to speak with their Dr. prior to using some of the broths and teas. I was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends throughout my treatment, but I always loved the notes, pictures, and small gifts that were included with my meals. After completing my Ceres meals, I was asked to speak to the teens and staff about my experience. So proud to have this wonderful organization in my backyard. Jill

Marlene A.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was an observer as I watched Ceres beautiful food delivered to a friend as she went through the arduous chemo treatments. She was nurtured physically & emotionally and today is a healthy woman whose diet is similar to how she learned to eat from Ceres. What a blessing Ceres is to everyone they touch..!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The impact that Ceres has, both locally and nationally, continues to increase. They focus on building community, providing healthy meals to those suffering from illnesses and they develop teens to be future leaders

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I applaud Ceres Community project and it is an honor to be part of this community. The staff are caring, thoughtful, creative and respectful of each other, clients and volunteers. The Leadership Team strives to nurture a positive, respectful and innovative culture while being excellent stewards of all financial funds received.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer and donor for Ceres. The healthy nourishing food helps those with acute illness such as cancer build strength while recovering. Ceres is the best non profit I have ever volunteered for.

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer, a donor and former client. I love the work that Ceres does and how important they have grown in the Sonoma County community.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

What an amazing organization!! The impact to the community and to those individuals that we serve is significant and needed for our challenging times. A life changing mission to feed those too sick to cook or feed themselves and engage the our future generation of leaders to understand their role in contributing to a healthy community is critical to our world today.

1 Sara161

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ceres has my heart. They helped my Mom when she was undergoing treatment! I volunteer there once a week and enjoy every minute I am there.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer with Ceres for over a year now. I love Ceres and the work they do. My Mother was a client with Ceres and received healing meals for 6 months while she was building her health back up after a treatment that left her weak. Being a part of the magic that happens at Ceres is the greatest gift and is rewarding in a way that is indescribable. I am grateful beyond measure.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

It's been a privilege to serve on the Board of Ceres for the last 4 years. I have volunteered and served on the boards of several nonprofits including national organizations and none have been run better than Ceres. Under Cathryn Couch's leadership Ceres has grown from a small summer project to wonderful organization, changing lives not just here in Sonoma County, but now spreading across the country. Ceres is mission driven and the heart of mission is improving and connecting community both on the near term and for the long game. There is no doubt of the impact of delivering healthy, nutrious food to those dealing with acute medical illness, but perhaps more subtle but no less important is the impact to our community when we empower our youth to make positive changes in their own lives and to the communities where they live. That is a benefit we will reap for generations.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I learned about Ceres several years ago, and was incredibly impressed by the work they do serving people in the midst of a health crisis, creating community connections and empowering young people. The work Ceres does became even more meaningful when I was going through cancer treatment myself, and realized how debilitating and demoralizing the process can be. Ceres is there to provide healthy delicious meals to people when they need it most -- regardless of their ability to pay. It's an incredible organization with a big heart, and a strong, smart, effective management team and staff. Our community is so lucky to have Ceres!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm honored to be a board member of Ceres Community Project and am impressed with each interaction I have with the staff, volunteers, and community served. The impact this organization is making makes me proud to be a small part of creating an ecosystem of empowered youth creating and serving healing foods. Ceres Community Project is making a huge difference in our community and is a model for food as medicine.

Joya H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Ceres for over 4 years, known many friends and community members who have been clients, receiving healthy, delicious meals made with love by our teen volunteers. Ceres has something for everybody to do, in the kitchen, garden or office. It is a joy and a rich learning experience for everyone. Ceres has the most integrity and respect of any the many volunteer organizations I've been involved with. And we have a lot of fun working as a team.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a former staff member, moving on to further my career was less hard because I knew I'd be welcomed back as a volunteer. But seeing things from the other side is quite beautiful. The appreciation you receive as a volunteer, the comraderie you can feel with other volunteers, and the knowledge that you are making changes in the world are all quite moving. I only wish I had more time (and money) to give!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We were one of Ceres first clients when my husband had cancer. In the decade since, both of my sons have worked as teen volunteers in the kitchen, garden and catering events. I have done some volunteering and taken nutritional cooking classes. We support several nonprifits, but Ceres is my favorite. I know from these many perspectives, the deep integrity of this organization, as well as the brilliance of its design--powerfully changing the lives of those who are ill and their families, as well as those teens and adults who serve and experientially learn so much about healthy eating and cooking, teamwork, and the ability to make a positive difference in the world. Supporting Ceres uplifts my heart.

Donor

Rating: 5

My patients have benefited so much from Ceres so...I became a donor. Good nutrition facilitates every other aspect of health. Thank you, Ceres, staff and volunteers for all you do!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I remember when I first heard about the Ceres Project...an organization that invites adult community members and teens to help grow organic food and then cook it up so that it can be delivered to very sick people and their families. It sounded brilliant to me, especially the part about inviting and empowering teens to participate in community building and service.
All this while having fun and socializing in a positive setting and learning some quite practical skills for personal or professional application! I eventually became a volunteer, first helping to maintain the beautiful landscape around the Ceres building on Bodega Ave., then as a garden mentor working with teens and learning together how to grow healthy, organic fruits and veg. I am so grateful for all of the thoughtfulness of the organization ON EVERY LEVEL. Please invest in them with your time, money or spreading the word about them. They are so valuable to our community and a wonderful template for other communities to learn from.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a donor...My granddaughter Shannon Gallup is a volunteer.........
She loves Ceres.....
A wonderful way to introduce Volunteering that will go with them in the future

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

(1/4) I was referred to Ceres through my doctor at the Sebastopol Community Health Center. She raved about Ceres and signed me up for a class. I was blown away

Client Served

Rating: 5

Newly diagnosed with cancer, Ceres delivered meals as I recovered from treatment. They have helped me learn about inserting healthy foods and a healthy lifestyle into my routine. I am a very poor chef, and I look forward to taking their cooking classes to tackle that challenge. I appreciate this program being in place. I think it is unique and a loving service to the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Rebecca and I have been a teen volunteer at Ceres for three years.
I would like to share a memory from a few months ago to help bring you into a typical afternoon in the Ceres kitchen.
“I gather in a circle with eight other teens and our chef mentors. Today, Diane joins us to share her experience as a cancer survivor. She thanks us for three months of wholesome meals delivered to her doorstep, which nourished her through chemotherapy. Before leaving, Diane adds that her family’s favorite dish was the fish tikka masala. I smile. I remember cooking that Indian dish two weeks ago. She smiles. Dispersing across the kitchen, we chop, roast, and sauté, transforming local produce into tasty dishes. Stirring, garnishing, and packaging, we prepare meals for 40 community members in need.
When a new volunteer accidentally adds too much broth to the North African stew, as a teen leader at Ceres, I remind him that there are no mistakes, only modifications. We laugh and rename the stew a soup. Taste testing the sesame dressing, I add a dash of rice wine vinegar, confidently straying from the recipe. I leave the kitchen to goodbyes and see-you-next-weeks, excited to don my chef coat again next Thursday afternoon.”
Ceres has sparked my love of cooking and inspired me to spend countless hours experimenting in my own kitchen at home. But Ceres is about so much more than just food. Ceres is a safe space where I have built the confidence to trust in my creativity and problem solve when things don’t go right. Ceres is where I want to be every Thursday afternoon and I am so lucky to be part of this welcoming group of people who have transformed a shared passion for cooking into action in our greater community.