Although our program does have a focus on practical skills training and economic opportunities, it’s incredibly important to note that there are three community goals that are core to our values and who we are as an organization — of which guide the way we design and approach our programs as a whole.
1) Intergenerational/Multicultural Dialogues/Cultural Awareness
Our chef cohorts consist of refugees from a variety of backgrounds. Thus, a large part of our program focuses on multicultural and intergenerational events and opportunities that support cultural awareness and cultural exchange. This exchange isn’t just between our chef participants, but also between the community and local youth members as well.
For example, we recently took a group field trip to a buddhist temple to support one of our chef entrepreneurs from Karen State in Burma. Her sons participated in Shinbyu, a buddhist coming of age ceremony. We invited our cohort, as well as UC Berkeley interns and volunteers to attend the celebration and eat together afterwards. This resulted in a session that was incredibly meaningful and educational, encouraging multicultural and intergenerational learning.
2) Youth/Community Involvement
We have an internship program that connect youth members to the work we do, enabling them to directly impact our work and the community we serve. We are intentional in bringing on youth members (focused on young people of color) who want to learn more and make a positive impact in the refugee population we serve.
We also engage with UC Berkeley students groups for a variety of events that encourage service-learning and volunteering. For example, we partnered with UC Berkeley student group, FEED, to host a Cultural Food Hackathon that focused on efficient ways to encourage cultural awareness through food and traditional food venues. We also participated in a Food Justice Career Panel that highlighted social entrepreneurship, food justice, and how students could effectively make an impact and get involved in food justice & equity work.
3) Local Nonprofit and Business Partnerships
Since its inception in 2015, Oakland Bloom has worked in collaboration with local community partners to create programs that lead to economic self-sufficiency and pathways to small food business ownership for refugee and immigrant communities. From day one, Oakland Bloom has developed partnerships that have ranged from refugee resettlement organizations to food justice organizations to agricultural groups, and more.