2022 Annual Report

You helped us achieve big things last year and now you can read all about the fruits of your labor in our 2022 Annual Report. Our volunteers contributed 3,200+ hours of service; our donors and funders contributed $638,000 in support; and together we provided 239,000+ pounds of fresh, local produce to 21,000+ people at soup kitchens and food pantries. We hope you’ll read through our annual report with pride for being a part of this incredible community. It is because of you – our volunteers, donors, and friends – that we have been able to achieve such big impacts. Thank you for supporting Concrete Jungle.

Meet Sheneka, CJ Board Member + Volunteer

We caught up with CJ board member and volunteer Sheneka White after she finished leading a flying dragon fruit juicing session at the Edgewood Community Learning Garden. Whenever there’s a unique volunteer opportunity for Concrete Jungle, she steps up to help. 

Sheneka grew up around “farm to table people,” gardening with her dad and grandma, and eating her mom’s delicious chicken bog (a “super-specific and super-regional” specialty from her part of South Carolina). Now, she serves on both the Community Engagement Committee and the Board of Directors for Concrete Jungle, but she still finds time to go to fruit picks and farm days. “I like the people I’ve met,” she shares. “I always end up having a good conversation at events.”

Continue reading “Meet Sheneka, CJ Board Member + Volunteer”

Meet Julie: CJ Volunteer

As we approach the end of the year and reflect on all that CJ has accomplished, we want to share stories from our community. Meet Julie, a new Concrete Jungle volunteer. Julie and her children first got involved with CJ at one of our adventure picks, harvesting apples in the mountains of Tiger, Georgia. 

Julie is originally from Tennessee but moved to Atlanta for a fresh start a few years ago. She volunteered with a variety of food justice initiatives around town before finding her way to Concrete Jungle. When she saw the Tiger apple pick opportunity in August, she thought it was the perfect opportunity for the whole family to get their hands dirty for a good cause. 

Continue reading “Meet Julie: CJ Volunteer”

Meet Ryan Bigg, CJ Partner

As we approach the end of the year and reflect on all that CJ has accomplished, we want to share stories from our community. We sat down with Ryan Bigg, Food Pantry Coordinator at Intown Collaborative Ministries (ICM) – one of CJ’s partners.  Ryan is an Atlanta native and an Emory grad. He has spent his career in nonprofit work, moving between food insecurity, homelessness services, and youth development. 

Ryan started at ICM in 2020 in the early days of the pandemic as a housing navigator. Now he works on the food programs for ICM. Ryan said the most rewarding part of the job is seeing people’s reactions and appreciations to the food they serve and prepare, “I enjoy talking to people and meeting them where they are in their journey.” We keep hearing from our partner organizations: people come for the food but they stay for the community and sense of connection. 

Continue reading “Meet Ryan Bigg, CJ Partner”

Meet Carl DiSalvo: CJ Board Member

As we round out another fruitful year, we need your help. You – our community – are critical to CJ’s success. We rely on you to help us harvest the fruits of local trees. And we rely on you to donate the fruits of your own labor, so that we can get more produce to people who need it. 

Your donation at the end of the year will support CJ as we draw the map to the future. With your help, we will increase our capacity to meet the nutrition needs of communities experiencing food insecurity. 

Continue reading “Meet Carl DiSalvo: CJ Board Member”

Meet Shawanda: Athens Hunger Relief Partner

Meet Shawanda Johnson, one of our hunger relief partners at our Athens branch. Shawanda is a Neighborhood Leader in Winterville – a position which allows her to be a resource hub for 25 low-income families in her neighborhood. 

Shawanda does it all! She explains that she “meets people where they are” and asks what they need instead of making assumptions. For her clients, she provides anything from SNAP assistance to mental health services to access to fresh produce. Her office closet is filled with clothes, baby diapers, prom dresses, and many other resources that families raising children may need. Her goal is to help residents become self-sufficient so that they benefit from her assistance but do not depend on it. She also runs her own cooking business, Shawanda’s Kitchen, where she teaches cooking classes and prepares nutritious meals for people.  

Continue reading “Meet Shawanda: Athens Hunger Relief Partner”

Meet Lauren: Athens Program Manager

Meet Lauren Towe – Program Manager for our Athens branch of Concrete Jungle. With the University at its center, Athens can be a bit of a transitory town. But Lauren is one of those rare lifelong Athens natives, and her roots go deep in this community. 

As Program Manager, Lauren really does it all. She manages volunteers on the ground, scouts local fruit trees, maintains relationships with our partners at UGArden and Campus Kitchen, and coordinates farmers market and grocery collections (amongst a thousand other things). She’s A++ at juggling all the fruity things! 

Continue reading “Meet Lauren: Athens Program Manager”

Meet Herman: Mercy & CJ Client

We sat down with a current client of Mercy Community Church – Herman. Herman is on a journey of rehab and recovery, and Mercy is there for him through the process. Herman laughed as he told us, “You know, you can’t have recovery your way. You can’t. It’s not going to work. But I’m blessed to be in a community church who loves me. They help me through the process.”

Herman added, “And I’ve got food! I see you guys, and I get veggies and stuff, fruits to take home.” We asked Herman what he liked to take from Concrete Jungle, and he said, “Potatoes, carrots. I’ll go back and make a salad. I’m a fan of salads. See, I worked in a restaurant before this. I learned how to do prep and how to make a meal stretch. Concrete Jungle helps you stretch a meal. Whoever came up with the idea, came up with a pretty good idea. Because it serves the community.” 

Continue reading “Meet Herman: Mercy & CJ Client”

Meet Craig: Concrete Jungle Co-Founder

As we look back at the history of Concrete Jungle’s fruit tree map, who better to talk to than the creator of CJ’s fruit map? Meet Craig Durkin. Craig and his friend Aubrey Daniels started Concrete Jungle back in 2009. But the map existed even before that. 

Craig first set up the map to help himself and his friends find free food. It was a simple Google map with markers on it that showed where fruit trees were, but it also had other ways to recover food too – like dumpsters where you could get bags of bagels and donuts. In the beginning, Craig says that it was pretty basic: “There wasn’t a whole lot of community around it. I’m not sure how many people even knew about it.” Today, the map has grown beyond Craig’s initial vision for the project. 

Continue reading “Meet Craig: Concrete Jungle Co-Founder”