Our Mission

To create a more healthy, sustainable, and local food system by creating a market for homegrown food.  

An increasing amount of food is grown in backyards, patios, and community gardens in urban environments across the world, yet there is virtually no market for this food aside from abandoning an overgrown gourd on your neighbor’s front step. Fresh Food Connect was started in 2016 as a pilot project between Denver Food Rescue, Denver Urban Gardens, and Groundwork Denver in Denver, Colorado to collect excess garden produce grown by community members to then be distributed to individuals and families facing food insecurity in the immediate community. The success of the pilot to engage backyard and community gardeners in hunger relief efforts led Fresh Food Connect to grow into a standing organization operating nationally.

Fresh Food Connect licenses its technology to hunger relief organizations who use the mobile app to coordinate the aggregation of homegrown produce to be donated and used to create positive change in the local food system. Individual gardeners sign up on the Fresh Food Connect app to donate their backyard grown produce that would perhaps otherwise go to waste. Fresh Food Connect conveniently helps solve “the zucchini problem” by directing surplus produce from garden to hunger relief center, either through a pick-up or drop off model, depending on local operations.

Our Staff Team

Fresh Food Connect is home to people who are tackling food insecurity by linking home gardeners with food rescue organizations. Contact them to learn more:

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    Kayla Birdsong
    Chief Executive Officer

    Kayla joined Fresh Food Connect in the summer of 2021 as CEO and is looking forward to using her experience to scale Fresh Food Connect nationally. Kayla has dedicated her career to innovative solutions to improving food access and security in the nonprofit sector. In her recent eight year tenure at The GrowHaus, where she served as Executive Director for four years, she collaboratively built up a food system in a food desert in NE Denver including elements of farming and production, food aggregation, distribution, retail, education and community outreach. Since 2018, Kayla has served on the board of advisors for Planet2Plate, a NY social enterprise launching a food incubator in Milwaukee. Kayla studied business management, has a certificate in Permaculture Design, and speaks Spanish.  Her dog Beanie is her best friend, and she loves meditating and vegetarian cooking.

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    Helen Katich
    Chief Advisor

    Helen is committed to serious work without taking herself too seriously. She has dedicated her career building organizations and participating in efforts that work towards equity, primarily with a focus on food systems.  Over the last ten years, Helen served as a Co-Founder and Board Member of Boulder Food Rescue, Co-Founder of Seattle Food Rescue, Director of Food Rescue Alliance, Program Manager at Metro Caring, and CEO of Fresh Food Connect. Now, Helen is working with Senator Hickenlooper's office focusing her time in Southwest Colorado, and serves in an advisory role with Fresh Food Connect, continuing to push the organization’s growth.

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    Laura Lavid
    PRODUCT AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

    Laura has almost 20 years experience in community based food work, including Denver Urban Gardens, American Community Gardening Association, Florida Organic Growers and Sprout City Farms. She joined Fresh Food Connect in 2019 as the Product and Operations Director and is excited to provide more opportunities to connect food and community nationwide. Outside of work, you’ll find Laura in the garden or in the kitchen finding new ways to prepare vegetables.

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    Michelle Rogers
    Social Marketing Intern

    Michelle is currently a master’s candidate in the Nutrition and Food Studies Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a fluent and native Spanish speaker and an interpreter for the Latinx community. Michelle is passionate about healthy foods and helping communities segregated by food apartheid achieve access to fresh foods via urban agriculture initiatives and food rescue operations. Her personal mission is to empower local communities with nutrition knowledge and access, while helping to instill more sustainable norms and behaviors around food choices and our natural environment. During her free time, you will find Michelle dancing her heart out to the beat of her dance fitness classes; camping, hiking, and cooking in the great outdoors; and gardening in her small, but very loved vegetable garden.

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Board of Directors

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    Turner Wyatt
    President

    Turner is an award-winning social entrepreneur focused on consumer-based solutions to food waste. Turner is co-founder and Board President of Fresh Food Connect. He currently serves as the CEO of the Upcycled Food Association, and was previously the Executive Director of Denver Food Rescue, and member of the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council.

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    Cindy Chang
    Member

    Cindy is Groundwork Denver's Executive Director and has been serving Groundwork Denver in various roles since 2010, including as a volunteer, Board, and staff member. Cindy has a background in nonprofit management, philanthropy, and has a deep passion for the environment. She earned a Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management and a Masters in Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She also has a B.A. from Tufts University.  In her free time, she enjoys yoga, walking, and her two cats.

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    Jack Fritzinger
    Member

    Jack is an entrepreneur whose passion for business development has taken him around the world. From non-profits in Colombia and South Africa, to telecommunications in Boston and biotechnology in Baltimore, Jack loves building relationships to help high-impact startups grow. Currently, Jack runs Timberline Strategies, a consulting firm aimed at building enterprises at the intersection of economic opportunity and social-environmental good. With its combination of food systems innovation and technology, Fresh Food Connect is a perfect fit, and Jack is enthusiastic about making a difference both with his skill set and the lettuce that he's learning to grow in his garden.

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    EMILY OLSEN
    Member

    Emily is equally as passionate about finding the best slice of pizza as she is about making sure that it has a positive impact on our environment. Through her work in food access Emily has become increasingly interested in ensuring that our food system promotes the health of people, communities and our planet. With a background in health equity and food justice she has worked with communities across the country to create their own healthier futures. She helped found Fresh Food Connect while working with Denver Food Rescue. Currently she is the Director of Cloud City Conservation Center in Leadville, CO. Ultimately Emily believes that our own individual health is not separate from the health of our communities or our planet. She loves nothing more than a day skiing or running in the mountains followed by pizza topped with veggies from her garden, and making sure that neither her adventures or her food had a negative impact on the environment or the communities connected to it.

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    Andrew Conklin
    Member

    Andrew is an entrepreneurial technologist with over 15 years of systems architecting, data modeling, application engineering, and customer success across startup, nonprofit, and enterprise government sectors. Andrew believes the best way to value life is to be in service to others, and particularly focuses on health and environmental issues. He serves on the Practitioners Board of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM.org), likes to play Squash, and enjoys getting his hands dirty in gardens under the sun.

  • Mailing address

    PO Box 181582, Denver, CO 80218
  • Email

    info@freshfoodconnect.org