GOOD 100: Meet AshEL Eldridge, Food Justice Organizer
AshEL Eldridge means to improve his community through juice. Sure, it may sound like an unconventional tool for change, but Eldridge believes he can be successful by combining community organization, healthy eating, and environmentalism.
This year, Eldridge will launch SOS Juice in Oakland, California, where he currently resides. The solar-powered for-profit/nonprofit hybrid will sell juice, smoothies, and compost, with the larger goals of improving the community’s overall health, promoting sustainable agriculture, and creating green jobs for low-income youth and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The Occupy movement, the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children Program, Indigenous Wisdom, and sacred ceremony all inspired SOS, which stands for “System out of our System.” Furthermore, Eldridge was prompted to action by his own grandmother’s passing due to diabetes, and the increasing prevalence of health issues due to nutrition deficiencies, especially in urban communities.
“I saw that in order for a deeper healing and transformation to happen, SOS Juice had to become a bigger ongoing business model that could provide jobs and access to a healthier lifestyle,” Eldridge says.
SOS not only aims to change the climate of Oakland’s food deserts—areas lacking in fresh, affordable foods usually necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle—but looks to reduce the amount of waste created by the existing food businesses. By helping create and connect existing commercial kitchens, Eldridge hopes to foster more efficient means of food recovery, food processing, and distribution.
“Customers will not only improve their own health, getting a good dose of their daily requirements of fruit and veggies in a cup, but also improve the health of communities impacted by poverty and the lack of access to healthy food and education by buying juice and smoothies via farmers markets and food trucks,” Eldridge says. “SOS Juice is for everyone with a stomach.”
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