SAN LEANDRO, CA - AUGUST 25: Kimberly Thomas, director of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League Food Hub poses for a photograph on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in San Leandro Calif.  Thomas, who served jail time at the sheriff department's Santa Rita facility worked her way from intern to director of the Food Hub. The Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League is currently growing food on over 90 acres at multiple sites with their urban farming program.  (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

Kim Thomas knew she wanted to be with her daughter again when she was released from Santa Rita Jail.

So she talked to a case manager at the county’s Youth and Family Services Bureau about her options after she finished a parenting class and a family reunification program.

“I knew that I wanted to change my life. … I wanted something better.

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, did some things. How I got here was — because I was broken,” she said.

She became the first intern at Dig Deep Farms, a nonprofit run through the Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League that’s dedicated to growing healthier food locally and distributing it as medicine to those in need.

She completed the internship and rose through the ranks to become a “farmacist” in 2019, setting up produce stands at wellness centers and filling prescriptions using MediCal and CalFresh vouchers to improve nutrition among patients. She is now food hub co-director.

SAN LEANDRO, CA – AUGUST 25: Kimberly Thomas, director of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League Food Hub poses for a photograph on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in San Leandro Calif. Thomas, who served jail time at the sheriff department’s Santa Rita facility worked her way from intern to director of the Food Hub. The Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League is currently growing food on over 90 acres at multiple sites with their urban farming program. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

The Oakland resident co-directs 17 parolees at the food hub in San Leandro as they complete 520 hours of on-the-job training.

Some of the parolees spend their paid internships repacking produce recovered from at least seven local businesses and organizations and then delivering it across Alameda County.

“My team … could be out there committing more crimes, robbing stores. But they’re not; they’re here packing food,” Thomas said.

Patrick Worrell-Facey, a shift lead driver at the organization, served 15 months in jail.

“I came out here with the mindset that I wanted something different,” Worrell-Facey said in a video promoting the nonprofit. “I’m making sure that I’m healing my community and making sure people get food.”

Worrell-Facey is one of five drivers who deliver food to residents in need. Thomas says 24 drivers help distribute not only produce that Dig Deep grows, but also pick up food donated by local restaurants and businesses.

The grub that drivers like Worrell-Facey deliver is packed by guys such as 43-year-old Joe …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

In the East Bay, a fresh start for the formerly incarcerated

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