Quarantine Q&A: How a local community organization manages to remain active despite a pandemic
Scott Ervin and Todd Wilson had a dream to promote healthy eating and help decrease food insecurity within the Santa Clarita Valley community. In 2015, they finally were able to turn their dream into a reality with the founding of feedSCV. They have since provided knowledge, resources and access to healthy food to those in need within the Santa Clarita Valley. The SCV Proclaimer was able to sit down with Ervin, co-founder of feedSCV, and he discussed what the non-profit has planned for the future.
MH: How did feedSCV originally start?
Todd started [the Facebook group Santa Clarita] Foodies in 2014. Somewhere along the line, I split off from my group [to start] the SpeakEasy bakery, which is a group of home artisanal bakers. I started doing some classes with Todd’s help and he was doing a couple of things with Foodies where he would raise money and give it to local food-related charities like the homeless shelters.
At one point we had said, “Hey, we’re both doing these things with food, where are you going to go with it?” And we both kind of said, well, we don’t really want to make money off it. We just wanted to contribute back to the community.
We both came to the conclusion that we had an audience and perhaps some trust from that audience. And we could work on starting a nonprofit and address some areas that hadn’t been addressed already.
MH: How were you able to obtain donations just starting out and how did you use the money allocated?
As I said, we have an audience. When we asked people to support us in whatever we’re doing, they have a tendency to respond and usually respond more than we really need.
We bought various denominations of gift cards for Ralph’s and Target. We then just started putting out the word, we let people know if you’re an out-of-work federal employee then we would be on our way with a food card to help you out for the week.
MH: How has COVID-19 affected your organization at the start of the pandemic?
When [the COVID-19 pandemic] happened, two things shut our program down at least temporarily. Number one, we would always buy large amounts of food at the local Sam’s Club or Costco. Once COVID-19 happened, they shut that down because everybody was scrambling for everything. So we couldn’t get the stuff that we were getting and we weren’t keeping large stores of it because we didn’t have a gigantic space to store in it. We were always buying kind of week to week. Once they said you can’t buy like that anymore, we really ran out almost immediately.
Another thing that happened is because our space was so small, we couldn’t safely have our volunteers – which included us – be in that small of a space and do what we were doing, even if we would’ve had the food.
MH: Your organization provides education and awareness on the importance of cooking healthy meals but, how have you been able to continue that outreach with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Todd is good at making video files and audio files – he knows his stuff. Plus, we know a bunch of people – obviously, there’s a lot of people that are in the business, as they say in Santa Clarita. In addition, a few of them were friends of feedSCV. So we made a few phone calls and our plan was to do a series of live videos to do the classes that we had been doing live at various places around town.
Our plan was to set up a decent studio and we got a set designer who really knew his stuff. We designed a set and we built that out. We got a lot of donations of all this stuff to build it out. We just set up an overhead and everything it takes to run [a studio.] So we’ve got lighting and other things donated as well.
At this point, we’re doing a number of things. We’re doing some of our own productions where we’ve done a couple of Instagram lives and we taped those as well. Those are available on our YouTube channel feed SCV.
Right now we’re working with the city of Santa Clarita. They have a program [called] “Food Sessions.” They contacted us because they heard about what we were doing. On the fourth Thursday of every month, they publish a half an hour program. We usually do the main course video piece to teach residents new techniques and healthy recipes.
If you asked me about feedSCV in general, my response is always going to be it’s been a very positive experience and I’ve learned one thing about Santa Clarita and that’s that there are a lot of very generous people in this area. All you have to do is ask them; these people will step up to the plate and it’s been an eye-opener for me. I’ve lived here since the ‘90s and I learned you never know until you ask. With feedSCV, we’ve asked and people have answered.
feedSCV’s new location is at 24881 Railroad Ave., Suite 103 in Newhall. Episodes of feedSCV’s “Food Sessions” can be found on the city of Santa Clarita YouTube channel and on The MAIN’s Facebook page. To help programs grow and to volunteer with feedSCV, sign up here.