Adrienne founded Leah’s Pantry in 2006. Ruthi founded SuperFood Drive in 2009. In 2017, we merged our organizations into one.
Q: What inspired the merge between Leah’s Pantry and SuperFood Drive?
(Ruthi): The merge between SuperFood Drive and Leah's Pantry was a very thoughtful and intentional process. Our organizations have been working in close partnership for 6 years so we already knew our complementary programs meshed well. SuperFood Drive's work has been to spearhead a movement towards healthy hunger relief. We focused on changing the narrative of what it means to nourish people in need and challenging hunger relief organizations to look closely at the nutritional quality of the foods provided to low-income vulnerable people.
(Adrienne) Leah's Pantry also focuses on nourishment for vulnerable, food insecure populations, but our programmatic focus has been curriculum development, training and education. We saw a merge with SuperFood Drive as a way to deepen our impact in the food pantry setting, where the types of foods offered really drive what other interventions are possible. We liked the idea of being able to provide a more comprehensive intervention in this crucial setting.
Q: Tell us about your partnership. Were you already working together? Did you already share a similar mission and vision?
(Ruthi): Although Adrienne and I discussed the possibility of merging in the past, 2017 was the perfect time. Prior to the merge, we’d collaborated on curriculum development and training programs, which helped us get acquainted with one another’s work. On a personal level, we have built a strong foundation of trust and friendship. Adrienne and I support each other as working mothers and non-profit leaders. Strong women must be held strongly. We’ve got each other’s backs to strive for great impact while making sure to always focus on self care and family priorities.
(Adrienne): When I first moved to San Diego in 2011, Ruthi and I were introduced by someone who had worked for Leah’s Pantry in 2007. That introduction launched not only a personal and professional friendship, but also a pathway for the expansion of Leah’s Pantry into the San Diego community. Ruthi has always approached her work with graciousness, integrity and passion. She is very inspiring and easy to work with, so I am grateful we have the opportunity to partner in such an intimate way.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand, what do you hope can be accomplished through your work? OR Why are you excited about the merge?
(Ruthi): Our vision is that all people are nourished with basic access to healthy food and supportive resources. Expanding upon healthy food access and basic nutrition education, we focus heavily on trauma-informed nutrition education and nutrition security in underrepresented communities. Over the past decade, we've learned that a major cause of unhealthy eating and lack of access to healthy food is trauma. Abuse, neglect, addiction, violence and chronic poverty create a cycle that’s often difficult to escape. These can be difficult topics to discuss. But they are very real parts of the lives of the humans we work with every day. This short video created by Leah’s Pantry does a great job explaining our trauma-informed programming.
Q: What happens to SuperFood Drive the non-profit?
(Ruthi): SuperFood Drive is now part of Leah’s Pantry! We no longer exist as a standalone corporation.
Q: Where does the name "Leah's Pantry" come from?
(Adrienne): Leah is my oldest child, now 14. When she was young, I was overwhelmed with the task of learning to feed a baby and toddler. I was curious how vulnerable populations navigated this aspect of parenting. After doing some asking around, I discovered there was a need in the San Francisco community to work with families emerging from homelessness. We started Leah’s Pantry to honor the challenge of parenting. It’s grown so much, but our values have stayed true.
(Ruthi): I love that our work shares a name with a strong and compassionate young woman.
(Adrienne): We won’t let her brothers read this interview. They might have a different version of their sister!
For any questions regarding our merge, please reach out! We’d love to hear from you!