By Samantha Daggett, Josh Buntin & Beca Delvaux
The ribbon cutting at Trinity Lutheran Church for Rooted In. (Video by Rooted In)
All it took was one snip, and a new nonprofit was open. Rooted In has taken off with a boom.
Seven members of the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce were at Trinity Lutheran Church, which Rooted In operates out of, on September 27 to help celebrate the occasion. They collected old yogurt containers to teach people how to take trash like the containers and upcycle them into something usable. There was a box where people could drop off non-perishables and fresh ingredients from their garden for the nonprofit to use. The box was overflowing with food by the end of the day. They also had a table with all kinds of goodies. Rooted In Executive Director Selena Darrow made and shared several recipes, including rhubarb cake, apple crisp bars, zucchini pumpkin bread, salsa, and Chex mix. All of the ingredients used were locally produced and grown. When talking to Darrow, she explained how her oven broke while baking, and she had to use her neighbor’s in order to finish.
Rooted In’s mission statement is “to strengthen the health of the Greater Green Bay community through partnerships and seed to table programs that create and maintain a sustainable local food system.” They are a nonprofit organization that provides healthy food options to the community of the Green Bay Area. Their core values are community, local food access, education, and equality. They want to make food accessible for all people in all walks of life by building community, providing skills, and treating everyone with the respect they deserve.
Rooted In has four different programs designed to enrich the community. “This problem is too big for any one group to handle. Rooted In will connect the dots and fill in the gaps between existing programs,” says Andy DiMezza, who is part of Rooted In’s advisory team. The first program to fill the gap is GROW: More People, More Plants, More Places. This program helps support gardening for all different kinds of people. The second is Rooted in Love: Shaping Green Leaders in our Community focusing on helping youth develop gardening and leadership skills within their schools. A third is Chef’s Table at the Market, a program that uses local ingredients from farmer’s markets to create recipes that can be made from home. The last program is called Nourishment for All, which provides healthy food options to those in need.
DiMezza says there are gaps and needs in the current food systems in the area, which they feel they are in a unique position to meet because of their distinct personalities, talents, and skills. “We will not only make our own impact but catalyze and improve the impact of the programs of the other groups while being improved by them in turn,” DiMizza says.
Selena Darrow is very passionate about the mission of Rooted In, saying, “I have a history of volunteer service in our community regarding food insecurity and access. I was on the original steering team for Live 54218, which became Wello. I was the charity committee coordinator at Birds Eye Foods from 2007 to 2012 and executed several projects to support the NEW Community Shelter and Fort Howard School. Personally, I was a single mom and was fortunate enough to have the support of my family and community to help me through the years I struggled in poverty. I feel empowered to do the same as a role model for our community as a whole.”
Rooted In provides a service to the Green Bay community by providing food for people who might not be able to afford it. They also seek to educate the community on healthier eating habits and different recipes for what can be done in preparing different types of food. Rooted In wants to empower people to cook locally grown food in a way that is healthier and more sustainable.
“Though there are some groups already working on local food insecurity and sustainability, this problem is too big for any one group to handle. Rooted-in will connect the dots and fill in the gaps between the existing programs not just to make our own impact on the seed to table food movement but to catalyze and improve the impact of the programs of the other groups while being improved by them in turn,” DiMezza says of the importance of Rooted In’s mission.
Because it is a nonprofit organization, Rooted In also encourages community members to get involved in their services, from donating food to volunteering their time. From its first day of opening, the community has been involved, with many donations being received. According to its directors, Rooted In is a transparent group of people with complementary sets of skills, talents, and personalities. They bring in and engage with a lot of different people to educate them on how to live better. DiMezza says, “We take the time to get organized and make a plan, but are nimble enough to quickly pivot when a project needs more flexibility. Most importantly, we have set the tone that we build up each other and other people. Who doesn’t get excited about that?”