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urban oak initiative

planting seeds of change in underserved communities

 
 
 
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Vision

Our vision is a world of healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities built around the holistic duality of nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Mission

The mission of the Urban Oak Initiative is to educate youth and their families on the benefits of plant-based nutrition and living an active and healthy lifestyle.


Three Key Mission Objectives

The Urban Oak Initiative has three key objectives targeted at youth ages 12-18. All of these objectives align with our programs and approach education on food and nutrition in a very fun and engaging way. They offer a non-judgmental approach allowing for open discussion of the problems, needs and issues around nutrition, obesity and chronic illness.

  1. Address the issues of childhood obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses by educating youth on the health benefits of eating more plant-based meals.

  2. Cultivate hands-on, experiential opportunities for students to learn about nutrition, culinary arts, and urban farming.

  3. Create economic opportunities and career paths for youth by teaching leadership and vocational skills through the culinary arts, and exposing them to entrepreneurship in the hospitality and agricultural industries.

 
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FOOD ACCESS

 

Today it seems technology has greatly changed how we engage and access food. For much of America at the push of a button or swipe of an app we can have groceries delivered to our door. But for many Americans access to fresh and healthy food is not as simple as ordering online or using an app. In low-income communities convenience stores are plentiful but offer few healthy food choices. Healthier options available at larger grocery stores or farmers markets could be a lengthy process of finding a ride to the grocery store that may be several miles away

There are still many neighborhoods in cities that lack access to quality food at affordable prices. And the Atlanta Metropolitan area unfortunately is no different. While the city is one of the fastest growing in the nation some of our communities still suffer the ill effects of food insecurity and generational poverty. Both of which seem to disproportionately affect minority and low-income communities and create sometimes dire consequences long-term effects for not only residents but the local health systems.

Research has shown that access and barriers to affordable, healthy food, can have consequences on the health of individuals. Increased rates of obesity, diabetes and chronic illness often correlate directly with lack of healthy food access. Food access is not simply a health issue but also a community development and equity issue. For this reason, access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food is a key component of a healthy, sustainable community.

fresh on the scene food truck market

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rethinking food access

How many nonprofits do you know that have their own dope, crazy, cool, customized ride with three TV’s, Bluetooth Speakers, Video Gaming, Wifi Music and two patios?:) Well we do. Meet our “Fresh On The Scene Mobile Food Truck and Market.” We like to call it the “FOTS.” And we designed it to help bring fresh and healthy foods to food deserts and teach members of the community how to prepare fresh and healthy meals.

The Fresh On The Scene Mobile Market and Food Education Project will provide a fully stocked mobile farmers market that is capable of carrying two hundred pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables along with a variety of perishable and non-perishable staples.

It will also have a mobile cooking studio providing healthy food cooking classes and cooking techniques and serve as an anchor for a series of community engagement farmer market events.

This food truck is currently in development and we are pursuing funding to get it off the drawing board and on the road. If you would like to be a part of the campaign reach out for more information,

If you think this is one of the coolest things ever, please follow and leave us a comment on Facebook or Instagram. We need the street credibility!

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programs

Our programs are designed to address many of the issues our communities face today around food security, nutrition and socio-economic opportunity.  We believe in a generationally sensitive approach to youth programming and meet youth where they are in life. The Urban Oak Initiative operates three programs targeted at youth ages 12-18. All of these programs approach education on food and nutrition in a very fun and engaging way. They offer a non-judgmental approach allowing for open discussion of the problems, needs and issues around obesity and chronic illness.

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Kids Can Cook

Culinary and Life Skills Program

Bringing hands-on, plant-based, action-packed culinary skills to students. This program makes healthy eating a fun, accessible option by giving kids the knowledge and skills to whip up healthy  (and delicious!) creations.

Students also interact with and visit local urban farms to learn more about organic fruits and vegetables.

In the advanced program, students also gain practical culinary skills that may assist them in obtaining employment.

 

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Learn Grow Launch

Entrepreneurial & Financial Education

Hungry for more? Students who want to advance their knowledge of business in the culinary arts have the opportunity to be mentored by local entrepreneurs in their community.  

This program teaches students basic entrepreneurial principles and exposes them to opportunities in the hospitality and agricultural industries. 

This program also educates students on the basic tenets of financial literacy.  An understanding of basic financial principles is essential for entrepreneurship.

 
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Plant Life

Plant-Based Education Seminars

This program offers live presentations by professionals on healthy plant-based cooking and nutrition along with tips, recipes, and resources. 

The Plant-Life program also makes these seminars available via our online virtual learning platform.

The Urban Oak team can create a great presentation for groups of all sizes and ages.

Our Team

 
 
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dionne mcgee, Executive director

From an early age Dionne has honed her debating skills often getting into a little trouble with her parents. But all of this served as great preparation for what would become a great legal career. Dionne is an accomplished attorney have served different legal roles as a defense attorney, prosecutor, and governmental attorney, This broad amount of experience has given her a unique skillset that allows her to find a great balance between showing compassion for others while also understanding that people must be responsible for their actions. Dionne believes that young people deserve and need opportunities to live up to their best potential. She has served as a mock trial coach, Local PTA Officer, and the construction advisory committee for Dekalb County Schools

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asia kuykendal, MS. program manager-financial literacy

While transitioning into the business of non-profit civic based work, Asia brings over 8 years of experience from the corporate accounting and finance industries. Her educational background includes a Bachelors in Accounting from The University of Texas at San Antonio and a Masters in Finance from Texas A&M-Commerce. With Urban Oak Initiative’s vision being in such alignment with her personal passion (to help educate and uplift the next generations), becoming dedicated to the mission was an easy decision.

randal ledet, MA. Economics - program manager entrepreneurship

Randal brings over 5 years of experience working in the non-profit arena providing business development and project management services to entrepreneurs throughout the metro Atlanta area. Randal received her Master of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Georgia and graduated from Agnes Scott College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Economics & Organizational Management. Randal has a true commitment to serving her community and empowering youth to becoming self-reliant leaders of tomorrow.

 
 
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kevin mcgee, FMP, CEC 2010-2015, culinary program. volunteer

Kevin started his career more than 25-years ago as a financial professional after received his B.A. Degree in Finance. But somehow managed to become an executive chef and founder of a successful hospitality and restaurant management company. Kevin has a love of food that is only matched by his love of people. Both remnants of his humble upbringing in a small Missouri agricultural town where locally grown food, hospitality, and friendliness were common place. Kevin believes in the power of food to connect, empower and even cure struggling communities.

 
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