As you might expect, the entire team at Mendocino Farms is a little bit obsessed with food. We believe that good food not only has the power to nourish our bodies, but that it also has a special way of bringing people together and in that way, helps nourish the strength of our community as well. During the holidays we were thinking of different ways we could give back to our community, and we realized that many of our own guests were probably also looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of those they cared about. So we called upon our guests to nominate families in need or worthy organizations to win a complimentary Mendocino Farms catering spread for the holidays, because it occurred to us that the simple gift of good food might go a long way, especially for someone who wasn’t expecting it at all. From dozens of incredibly heartwarming nominations, we chose three very deserving winners.

Our guest Melissa K. wrote in with the following nomination:

“I would like to nominate our longtime house cleaner, Blanca. Blanca has been battling health issues all year that threaten to put her out of work for up to 4 months. During that time she would have no one to pick up the responsibility of providing and caring for her daughters and grandchildren, who live with her. Blanca is not married, so she carries the burden of her financial and health issues herself, with no one to help share the weight. We are trying to do what we can to provide Blanca with some relief from her health worries in hopes that she will be able to give her family a good Christmas and enjoy herself for at least one day.”

Mendocino Farms social awareness and give back programs

Blanca and her Family

When we called Blanca to let her know she had been nominated by her friend Melissa and that she’d won a holiday meal for her family, her gratitude was palpable through the phone.  She had just been trying to figure out how she was going to feed everyone for their day after Christmas gathering when she answered our call. Our guest Melissa was equally overjoyed, and told us that having the opportunity to nominate Blanca “has also sparked an email thread between us and a few of her other clients, we are trying to figure out a way to help her in the new year should she need surgery and be unable to work for weeks or months.” To us, this was the perfect embodiment of the saying “no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

Our guest Lily L. from FIG@7TH also wrote in with a story that left us speechless:

Mendocino Farms Making a difference in the community FIG and 7th team

Lily and her Husband with the FIG@7TH Team

“I would love to spread the holiday cheer with my cancer support network! In January of this year, a week before my 35th birthday, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer.  I’ve spent the year undergoing multiple treatments including chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation, and targeted therapy.  I have 2 more surgeries ahead of me and I won’t be done with infusions until April of next year. During this most difficult “journey,” I have been blessed with the kindness and generosity of family, friends, co-workers, and other young breast cancer fighters.  As the holidays are quickly approaching, I have been trying to come up with creative ways to thank my support network for all that they’ve done for me this year.  Medical expenses and the inability to work full-time, however, have made it hard to find meaningful gifts for the people who have helped me so much. I would like to “nourish” my network with healthy Mendo food as they have nourished me mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

Lily chose to come pick up her catering spread from the restaurant, and our team was thrilled to have the chance to meet her in person. It was such a special experience for them to lovingly make a meal they knew would be so meaningful to this extraordinary group of people. Witnessing Lily’s incredible strength and selflessness in the face of such a great challenge and experiencing firsthand the way the members of our community lovingly take care of one another with such generosity was truly humbling.

The third nomination that deeply moved us came from our guest Nanci C., founder of Sugar and Stillettos:

Westside food bank staff and volunteers

The Westside Food Bank Staff and Volunteers

“I am so excited to nominate the Westside Food Bank in Santa Monica! I have worked closely with them through my Sugar & Stilettos Charitable Foundation. They have been one of two beneficiaries of our funds since our inception in 2011. I simply can not say enough wonderful things about the people at WFB. They are a small skeletal staff working tirelessly to feed women, children and families including the mentally ill, seniors, our veterans and the homeless who are suffering from hunger and food insecurity. They serve over 70 agencies on the Westside of Los Angeles from Venice to Culver City to West Hollywood to Santa Monica to Inglewood and beyond. 85% of the money they raise goes to food distribution with only 15% going to administration and fundraising efforts…so spectacular! Bruce Rankin (Executive Director), Genevieve Riutort (Development Director), Allison Griffith (Volunteer Director), Michael Girsback (Administration Assistant) plus a handful of support staff, warehouse staff and interns make up the entire team. They work day in day out, weekends, nights and early mornings just to make sure that tons of food (literally tons) gets to the thousands of desperate people in our community…every day, every week of every year.”

What struck us most when we showed up to deliver the catering was that it was literally being served in a warehouse where food donations were organized and stacked multiple stories high, waiting to go out to the people who needed it most. After we got the meal laid out, it was actually difficult to get everyone to stop working long enough to come sit together and eat. This was clearly a group so focused on helping others, they rarely (if ever) took time out for themselves.

Mendocino farms giving free catering to those in need

We are so grateful to every single person who took the time to write in with nominations. This experience has reminded us that there are unlimited opportunities to serve others in many different ways, and that even a small gesture can mean so much. We look forward to revisiting the giving campaign again in the future, but until then we’ll all be doing what we can to make those small differences in our community every day.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Ann Frank