Santa Cruz’ Homeless Garden Project and Second Harvest Food Bank tied in voting for best nonprofit. “Our success depends on the community, so we are really grateful for the love and sup- port,” says Darrie Ganzhorn, executive director of the Homeless Garden Project. She has been with the project for 22 years and sees it as a good way of combining vocational training for those who need it with a sustainable urban food system. “There’s so much going on here, I’m just hooked!” she says.
Second Harvest CEO Willy Elliot-McCrea says the organization is emphasizing fruits and vegetables like never before. “Cheap food and lack of access to fresh produce is what’s driving hunger and obesity here on the Central Coast,” he says, adding that 62.3% of all the food distributed last year was fresh produce—the highest percentage in the nation! Additionally, Second Harvest has created a group of 250 peer-to-peer nutrition ambassadors to teach cooking and help people understand the links between good eating and good health. “If we want to have a healthy and vibrant community,” he says, “we have to have healthy food.”
Runners up were: Live Earth Farm Discovery Program and MEarth in Carmel.