St. John’s Well Child and Family Center hosted its 4th Annual Moveable Feast fundraiser this year on April 27th at the historic Park Plaza Hotel near Downtown Los Angeles.
Moveable Feast is an ongoing fundraiser shinning a light on the poor access to quality nutritious food in South LA and raising funds to combat the problem. This incredible event raised over $117,000 to support the “food desert,” a community surrounding St. John’s South LA service area.
This territory is referred to as a “food desert” because the majority of the residents live below the poverty line. They suffer from chronic disease and the nutrition related illnesses of obesity and diabetes. Funds raised will directly impact a targeted obesity-prevention program for our youth.
The money will implement gardens at St. John’s School Based Health Centers and provide nutritional counseling by registered dieticians to patients across St. John’s network of clinics. This will provide high quality health care to residents, regardless of ability to pay.
You couldn’t ask for a better cause, or better food.
Attendees of this fantastic event experienced a variety of tastes prepared and presented by participating restaurants and volunteers of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Each of the menus included a locally grown and sustainable ‘featured ingredient’ that was supplied by So Cal Farm Network and its growing partners. The purveyors donated their time, staff, and remaining ingredients.
The delectable tastes ranged from the savory flavors of Starry Kitchen to the sweet seduction of Ramekin.
Even more impressive than the food being served, was the food being offered. Absolutely everything at the event had a purpose.
There were boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables as centerpieces, which could be purchased, and even the herb boxes could be taken home for a donation! Everything you touched was supporting St. John’s mission to overcome health disparities and foster community well-being.
This year’s event also marked St. John’s 50th Anniversary and recognized the incredible individuals and organizations that have been vital to the expansion of health services in South Los Angeles.
The 4th Annual Moveable Feast Distinguished Honorees
Health Safety Net Hero - Howard A. Kahn, CEO L.A. Care Health Plan
Visionary Award - Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Activist Award - Curren D. Price, Jr., Los Angeles City Council
Advocate Award - Swinerton Builders
I quickly saw that these are people who know how to make an impact.
Speaking to Tom Polenzani, who has worked with St. John’s Director of Development Ernesto Barahona for years, I learned what it was about this group of people that is so special.
I asked what it was like to work with such groundbreaking individuals. Tom’s face lit up as he told me, “every time St. John’s has an idea that is just too crazy to work – they show me it can.”
Truly believing this, I watched Ernesto Barahona raise $5,000 dollars in under a minute to equip St. John's newly constructed test kitchen, which will provide cooking and nutrition classes for patients. Several chefs from the event, as well as Le Cordon Bleu students have already signed up for cooking demos. He had purpose and passion, an unbeatable force.
Impressed, and a little intimidated by the ferocity with which this organization moves forward, I reflected on a statement made by Jim Mangia, President of St. John’s, who encouraged us to, “never forget that why we exist is to care for the folks who need us the most, that’s why we’re here.”
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit community health center serving patients of all ages through a network of 10 Federally Qualified Health Centers and school-based clinics that span the breadth of Central and South Los Angeles and Compton.
Founded in 1964, the small volunteer pediatric clinic has become one of the most significant and comprehensive safety net providers in Los Angeles County.
Everyday St John’s comes closer and closer to achieving their mission eliminating health disparities as they foster community well-being.
They provide and promote the highest quality care in South Los Angeles, and operate one of LA County’s largest networks of community health centers, providing free or low-cost care to some of the most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles.
I am not sure what they will do next, but I know it will be something worth trying for. As Ernesto so beautifully put it, “it’s about good friends, good food, and making people happy.”
Congratulations St. John’s Well Child and Family Center for 50 years well done!
This year’s restaurants & beverage purveyors
Ramekin, Urban Radish, Canelé, Terroni, Fickle, Starry Kitchen, The Black Cat, Takami, Azla Vegan, Chichen Itza, Red Hill, Homegirl Cafe, Pitfire Pizza, Amara Kitchen, La Taquiza, Yogurt Land, and Naked Juice. Buzz Wine Beer Shop is this year’s wine sponsor. Supporting restaurants who were unable to participate this year but are donating gift cards for the raffle: Aburiya Toranoko, Lazy Ox Canteen, Taberna Arros Y Vi, Border Grill, Sage Vegan Bistro, Pazzo Gelato, Golden State, and Mohawk Bend.
More about St. John’s:
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit community health center. We serve patients of all ages through a network of 10 Federally Qualified Health Centers and school-based clinics that span the breadth of Central and South Los Angeles and Compton. The non-profit organization was founded in 1964 as a small, volunteer pediatric clinic and has since expanded to become one of the most significant and comprehensive safety net providers in Los Angeles County. Our mission is to eliminate health disparities and foster community well-being by providing and promoting the highest quality care in South Los Angeles. Learn more by visiting the St. John's Well Child and Family Center website.
Photography Credits to Roy Sadakane and Steven Lam