United with GRACE: Amplifying Community Support Through Partnership

United with GRACE: Amplifying Community Support Through Partnership

When we started Kekoa Foods we were inspired by community organizations like GRACE in Summit NJ. GRACE is an acronym for Giving and Receiving Assistance for our Community’s Essentials and it is an organization that embodies the essence of community support and compassion.

What are “community essentials?” GRACE works to stabilize households who could use extra support providing community members with more than grocery items. The organization also seeks to provide all families with enough fresh produce to consume their recommended 5-7 servings a day, for a child to have the gear to safely and fully play a sport, or for a laborer to have the boots he or she needs to gain employment on a worksite.

Their efforts surround the individual and family with the essentials they need to live, grow, learn, work, and thrive in the community.

Volunteers, the backbone of GRACE, help distribute up to 16,000 pounds of food and supplies weekly, shared with 2,200-3,300 community members. This incredible outreach is fueled by donations, grants, and the collective effort of community members.


Our Work with GRACE

We first connected with GRACE in November 2022, when our team was able to supply over 12,000 baby food pouches to the multitude of families GRACE supports. That contribution was part of their weekly distribution of fresh dairy, produce, and household staples.

We returned to GRACE in August 2023 when we provided and distributed 1600 pouches of our organic, palate-expanding, veggie-rich pouch purees to the community members. At that time, we learned that GRACE had converted from a model whereby community members were given a set package of grocery and pantry items to a Choice Model, whereby community members were given the opportunity to select the items that made the most sense and impact for their family members. This was very important to GRACE Founder, Amanda Parish Block, who wanted to empower community members when they participate in any of GRACE’s offerings.  “GRACE is an outreach agency, mostly known for its weekly nutrient dense, fresh-focused, choice based pantry. We marshal community resources to meet our community’s needs as prioritized by our people,” said Block.

In late February 2024, we had the opportunity to donate nearly 700 of Kekoa Foods baby food pouches. This initiative, made possible by the generosity of Robert Bell Wilkins and Mrs. Ella Denise Wilkins in honor of Mr. Gerald James Wilkins, reached 222 children across five elementary schools in Summit, NJ. It's moments like these that humble us to play a small role in supporting our local communities and their health and nutrition goals.


The Impact of Kekoa Foods' Donations

In line with GRACE's broader mission, our contributions aim to enrich beyond mere sustenance. Every Kekoa Foods pouch is a mix of 100% certified organic ingredients, specifically chosen to provide wholesome nourishment, not just to fill a belly. We recognize the impact high-quality food has in creating a solid foundation for a child’s health, particularly when contrasted with the readily available, less nutritious alternatives that may come at a lower cost. Our hope is that by supplementing the diets of children in our community with these nutritious options, we're supporting their growth and development, reflecting our commitment to serving those who tirelessly work to serve our community. “We value and admire Kekoa Foods for its ingenious nutritional make up, its tantalizing flavor combinations, and easy to use product packaging. Personally, I adore Danny and David. They understand the nutritional and emotional needs behind feeding a family or a community the very best food. It is also heart-warming to witness their connection when they come to GRACE and share their purées with our families,” said Block.


A Continued Journey of Giving

Our partnership with GRACE is one in the same with our belief in the power of community. We share a vision where every child has access to the nutrition they need for a healthy start in life. Our journey with GRACE is an ongoing commitment, a path we walk with pride and hope.


Looking Ahead with a Mission

As Kekoa Foods continues to grow, our resolve to support and nurture communities remains unwavering. We're inspired daily by the work of team members at organizations like GRACE and the profound impact they have on their community members’ lives. Our collaboration is a beautiful synergy of shared values and visions, and we look forward to nurturing this partnership in the years to come.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone at GRACE and the community of Summit, NJ. Your support, dedication, and compassion are what make these endeavors possible. Together, we can continue to make a difference, one pouch, one child, one community at a time.