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Jun 01, 2017

Janus Youth Programs Awarded Grant for the Peninsula Incentive Project

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden congratulated Janus for receiving a $94,566 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program. FINI grants support projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables to low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase.  Village Gardens will administer the Peninsula Incentive Project. According to Senator Wyden, “I was thrilled to learn that Janus Youth Programs earned this grant, which will ensure that more low-income individuals and families will have access to nutritious food right in their community. With so many families worrying about where their next meal will come from, this is welcomed news that should be celebrated.”

Village Market, one of Village Gardens’ neighborhood-scale community food projects, has had success implementing an incentive program which offers a 30% discount to 500 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) customers to purchase fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs, bulk, whole grains and other healthy pantry items. The Peninsula Incentive Project will test additional incentive models to determine best practices for both the consumer and the retailer.

With FINI funds, Village Market will build on previous success by creating a new program for SNAP recipients to earn incentives for purchasing fruits and vegetables. The program will track EBT purchases at point of purchase: for every $20 in SNAP spending at Village Market, customers will receive a $5 credit for purchasing fresh fruits or vegetables.

In parallel, the Peninsula Incentive Project will enable distribution of vegetable vouchers through partner organizations—St. Johns Center for Opportunity, Home Forward, Healthy Birth Initiative, Northwest Housing Alternatives, Cathedral Gardens, Community of Hope and the North Portland Health Center—to 150 North Portland low income residents. Participants will receive $30 vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at two farmers markets and two small grocery stores. In addition to expanding incentive programs, Village Gardens will increase the local distribution of Village Gardens’ grown produce to SNAP recipients by providing culturally relevant produce to the New Columbia Farmers Market and Village Market where many residents shop. Through FINI funding and as part of the statewide “Double Up Food Bucks” program, New Columbia Farmers Market, an incubator market supporting new and emerging farmer/vendors, will provide up to a $10 match for SNAP customers.

The Peninsula Incentive Project is an opportunity to build strategic and equitable access to healthy food that meets the needs of all North Portland neighbors. Pilot testing of this program will determine its viability for expansion to other small grocery stores.

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Jan 18, 2018
Employee Spotlight—Washington Outreach Specialists

Every day our Outreach Specialists in Washington are busy serving homeless youth who have no one else to turn to. The team of three staff—Keeva Haverkost, Jessica Villasenor, and Jean Withers—work like a well-oiled machine, supporting each other so they can provide high quality service to youth. All of them are passionate about their work. Bettina Boles, Program Supervisor of The Perch and Yellow Brick Road Washington, says of her team, “Each person brings their unique contribution and special reason to work as an Outreach Specialist.” According to Bettina, the team has multifaceted roles— hosting The Perch—our drop-in center for youth—conducting street outreach for Yellow Brick Road, Washington and leading educational presentations that help the community better understand human trafficking and its impact in Clark County.

Jan 09, 2018
Youth Spotlight—Noah Schultz and his” Inspiring Action Tour”

Noah Schultz is a 25-year old graduate of the Hope Partnership program who served 7.5 years in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA). While at the MacLaren Correctional Facility, Noah received two Bachelor of Arts degrees. Since his release in October 2016, he has become an outspoken youth advocate, with a passion to drive reform in our justice system, inspiring hope, action and humanizing the stories of the incarcerated. In November 2017, Noah completed a two-month “Inspiring Action Tour” at ten correctional facilities throughout the U.S. where he showed the award-winning documentary film about him, “Perception from Prison to Purpose.” He is co-owner of Forgotten Culture Clothing and co-founder of Verbal Escape. Noah spoke to us about his tour.

Dec 18, 2017
Sixth Grader Organizes Sock Drive For Janus Youth

Eleven-year old Quentin Brown organized a winter sock drive at his school, Cascade Heights Public Charter School, collecting 582 pairs of socks for our youth. This is his second year organizing the sock drive.

 Last year, Janus awarded Quentin the “Stars for Kids Award” for his contributions to our youth. Each year on his birthday, Quentin asks family members to give him gifts that he can donate to Portland’s homeless youth. Rather than getting toys and games, Quentin gets socks, water bottles, hats and scarfs that he packs up in a bin and brings down to the Janus administrative office. Last year, he even brought a little piggy bank with all of his savings and gave it to Janus. He has been doing this for seven years now. By thinking of the needs of others, he sets an example for his peers, family and community, showing the impact kids have on helping other kids. Quentin demonstrates that acts of kindness can be cultivated at a young age. 

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