From Architecture to Food to Funding

Dear Food Commons supporters,

First, I want to thank you for joining an ambitious journey to rebuild our local food system in an equitable and sustainable way. Whether you’re a customer, supplier, vocal supporter, or all of the above, the change we’ve set in motion is truly inspiring. I’ve been honored to be a leader for the planning and start up phases of the organization. Not only are we improving the local food system, I’ve been improved in the process.

I’m writing you to share news and a vision for the future. I’ve been given the opportunity to join Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) as their new Central Valley Regional Manager. NCCLF is making the Central Valley a strategic focus of investment and technical assistance for food businesses, affordable housing, and non-profits. I’m honored to build on the foundation that Alice Rocha has built over the past decade as she enters a well-earned retirement.

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This may leave you asking how does that impact the future of Food Commons Fresno. I’ve been working as Development Manager for the organization for nearly four years. I’m immensely proud of what our team has accomplished from planning, to launch of operations, and now emerging from the start-up phase. In the organization's maturity, I’ve reflected on my own role and career trajectory.

In 2014, in left a career in architecture to invest my time in the implementation of Fresno’s 2035 General Plan that called for infilling our city with complete neighborhoods and preserving our precious farm land and natural resources. Food Commons was a ripe opportunity to get healthy food into every neighborhood of the city. We are achieving that as a team. I cannot say enough about the team we’ve grown. They care deeply about this mission. They have grown so much and new talented team members have joined. So much so that I feel confident in taking a step back to look at developing other businesses, housing and non-profits that will together form and ecosystem that will transform our community.     

With the values, talent, and passion present in our community, the key missing piece is enough capital to make a lasting impact. That is why I’m turning my attention to understanding the financing mechanisms that will get us there. I came to know NCCLF well through their support of Food Commons Fresno with a loan for our Direct Public Offering campaign to raise $4.5 million in community equity for the growth of Ooooby, Wholesale, Road 20 Farm and Belmont Kitchen businesses, as well as expansion into retail grocery near my alma mater Edison High School in South West Fresno. I use “our” in this context even though, no longer an employee of the company, I am investing some of my resources in the DPO and will then be a part owner. I hope you will join me by investing what you can in Food Commons Fresno.

To the Food Commons Family, you can count on my vocal support, continued mentorship, and financial assistance toward a shared community vision.

Love,

Kiel Lopez-Schmidt

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