ALL IN Alameda County’s (ALL IN) placed-based strategies are community and participatory action projects focused on addressing complex social processes that drive systems change. ALL IN has been engaged in strategies across the County, including the neighborhoods of Fruitvale and San Antonio and Unincorporated Ashland.
Healthy Food, Healthy Families
Our first neighborhood-led strategy began as a community education and participatory action project focused on promoting healthy eating and healthy food systems in two adjacent centralized neighborhoods in Oakland, San Antonio and Fruitvale. Community and neighborhood-led strategies are complex social processes that move beyond single interventions and outcomes at the individual level of short-term change. The Healthy Food Healthy Families Neighborhood Strategy had two main components in San Antonio and Fruitvale: the Neighborhood Steering Committee and Healthy Food Champions.
- The Neighborhood Steering Committee (NSC) featured members and directors of nonprofit organizations in the neighborhood, community residents, County and City department representatives, and leaders from local health clinics. The NSC meets once a month and followed a collaborative process for the above-named stakeholders to identify the direction, actions, and to evaluate of the progress of promoting health eating and healthy food systems in the neighborhood. Historically, ALL IN convened and facilitated the NSC meetings at different community partner sites and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, ALL IN worked with residents and community organizations to explore the sustainability of the NSC without ALL IN serving as the backbone agency. Through a series of meetings, the NSC decided to merge with the Oakland Thrives Leadership Council’s (OTLC) Community Outreach Working Group (COWG) in 2022. Both the NSC and COWG wanted to explore broader opportunities for information sharing and driving grass roots driven policy and systems change — moving beyond their original charges. ALL IN continues to be an active partner in the merged group and will support the ongoing evolution of this community-led strategy.
- The Healthy Food Champions (HFC) are community residents who have a passion for promoting health. The HFCs work through La Clinica’s Community Engagement Hub. There are currently 5 Healthy Food Champions, all women of color mothers from either the Fruitvale or San Antonio neighborhoods. Through the Community Engagement Hub and ALL IN, the HFC’s have been going through a collective process that brings their own knowledge and various cultural backgrounds together, learning new skills and educating community residents on health promotion strategies and healthy eating. To promote the model across other communities, the HFCs in partnership with ALL IN developed a HFC toolkit. In 2021, La Clinica received funding from the Hellman Foundation to continue to support the expansion of the HFC model into other neighborhoods. The HFCs presented at the December 2021 NSC meeting and to promotoras in Contra Costa and Solano Counties in November 2021.
Over the next three years, ALL IN’s Healthy Food, Healthy Families Initiative will work to expand into other areas of Alameda County, including the unincorporated neighborhoods of Ashland and Cherryland, and South Hayward. Future place-based work will focus on youth engagement in food systems, expanding healthy retail, and exploring food systems workforce development opportunities.
Policy Lab in Oakland
With supplemental funding from the Hellman Foundation, ALL IN was able to design a contract to establish a community-based policy platform which builds on the work of the Healthy Food Champions and Community Engagement Hub. A grassroots organization, In-Advance, was selected through a competitive County bidding process. In-Advance works with Neighborhood Steering Committee members Trybe, Mandela Partners, and Street Level Health Center to engage the community on shifting the system towards a healthier food environment.
In September 2020, Resident Leaders connected with a sample of participants from the SABA Grocers Food Card program to learn more about their ideas for stores and neighborhoods as a food eco-system and how local government can support community transformation. Through a community organizing approach and lessons learned from the SABA Grocers Food Program, In-Advance identified potential policy pathways to promote healthy retail, subsides, and cooperative purchase agreements to mention a few. In-Advance also launched education workshops to educate residents on the individual and collective roles in a local economy, specifically the multiplier effect of their purchase at a local business and the collective purchasing power residents have if they come together.
Youth Engagement in Ashland and Cherryland
Through a partnership with Dig Deep Farms, Alameda County Office of Education, REACH Ashland Youth Center, and ALL IN Alameda County, a youth engagement program was launched in 2020 to support career pathway discovery in the food economy. For more information on our youth engagement programming please visit the Children, Youth, and Families webpage.
Alameda County Communities Connect:
A COVID-19 Health Equity Initiative
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, ALL IN was challenged to determine how to best support community engagement across neighborhoods in Alameda County. Through established relationships with community partners, ALL IN began to provide capacity building support for community organizations serving the most COVID-19 impacted neighborhoods of West Oakland, Fruitvale/San Antonio, East Oakland, Ashland and Cherryland, and South Hayward. Our engagement has helped community organizations secure funding from Alameda County to support emergency food distribution, contact tracing and case investigation, outreach and education, and testing. ALL IN’s engagement with community has built trust, launched new partnerships, and informed federal advocacy efforts for re-establishing the USDA’s Farm to Families food box program in Alameda County. ALL IN staff has
- Launched convenings and participated in established community-led spaces to glean information on the real-time, on-the-ground needs of residents and community organizations who quickly pivoted to meet the basic needs of individuals and families.
- Written grants for community partners providing emergency food distribution.
- Advised on budgets and facilitated access to funding opportunities.
- Supported case management and navigation for community partners supporting resident access to resources.
- Deepened relationships with County agencies and community partners.
- Connected County staff with community partners to support the response across sectors (e.g., transportation and vaccination operations).
- Provided space for community organizations to discuss priorities for short and long term strategies that promote equitable recovery in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Emergency Food Distribution
Early in the pandemic, ALL IN developed a food distribution model in partnership with the DDF Food Hub that not only provided emergency food and fresh locally sourced produce but also provided small business grants to local food businesses to prepare healthy meals for distribution to families in need. These $15,000 grant awards to small businesses in unincorporated Alameda County, Hayward, and San Leandro helped keep businesses open and produced meals for food insecure individuals and families. To support this food distribution model, ALL IN secured funding from the Stupski Foundation, McGovern Foundation, and local Community Development Block Grant funds. Leadership from ALL IN seeded the capacity for DDF Food Hub to secure funding from Alameda County to support emergency food distribution.
Through our deepened relationships, ALL IN has become a trusted partner among community organizations and a go-to for County agency staff looking for information on community needs and connecting with resources outside traditional County structure. ALL IN has recently served as a neutral convener among community organizations and collaboratives to explore recovery and resilience priorities (e.g., food security/justice, health and wellness, economic recovery and relief, and outreach/education) and where there may be areas of alignment. We engaged collaboratives and organizations from Fruitvale and San Antonio, South Hayward, Livermore, Unincorporated Eden Area, and West and East Oakland. Here are a few key points we have learned in these convenings:
- We must focus on community assets and not deficits.
- We have an opportunity to leverage and support the community workforce established through COVID-19 response work.
- Our strategies must move beyond funding cycles and competitive contracts.
- We must explore ways to reduce the administrative burden on community organizations.
- We must promote transparency and accountability through common metrics.
- Our work must evolve from emergency response to long-term support.