Food Empowerment Project

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a volunteer-based non-profit organization focused on veganism and food justice. Its mission statement is "to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one's food choices."[1] The organization was founded in 2006 by Lauren Ornelas, who continues to lead it.[1] Based in San Jose, California, the F.E.P. opened an additional chapter in Seattle, Washington, in 2016.[2][3]

Food Empowerment Project
Legal statusNon-profit
PurposeFood justice, veganism, animal rights
HeadquartersSan Jose, California

Organization and mission

The organization is composed of a team of activists from various animal rights, environmental and social justice organizations.[4] They work on encouraging healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the lack of access to healthy foods in low-income areas.[5] In January 2011, the organization began researching companies that make vegan products containing chocolate to find out if they source their cocoa beans from countries where child labor and slavery can still be found. The frequently updated list of companies[6] is available on the F.E.P. web site.[7]


In April 2008, the Food Empowerment Project supported California Senate Bill 1443 which would require that a written contract between a retail food facility and a purchaser include an option that allows the purchaser to direct the facility to donate leftover food to a non-profit food bank or provide it to the purchaser.[8]

In March 2009 the F.E.P. began surveying supermarkets, convenience stores and other retail businesses that sell food in Santa Clara County. The resulting 2010 report, "Shining a Light on the Valley of Heart's Delight",[9] found that higher-income areas had more than twice as many large supermarkets per capita than lower-income areas, while lower-income communities have nearly twice as many liquor stores and 50 percent more markets that sell an abundance of meat products. Neither of these latter store types offers a variety of healthy food options, like fresh fruits and vegetables.


F.E.P.'s first corporate campaign targeted Clif Bar, maker of energy bars and drinks, for not disclosing the source of their chocolate.[10][11] This worried F.E.P. because two West African countries, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which supply 75 percent of the world's cocoa market were documented by a handful of organizations and journalists to employ child labor and in some cases, slavery on cocoa farms.[12] On December 2, 2014, F.E.P. declared victory with Clif Bar & Company publicly disclosing that its cocoa sources included both suspect countries.[13]

F.E.P. holds an annual school supply drive for the children of farm workers.[14]


F.E.P. received the 2012 Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits.[2]

See also


  1. "About F.E.P." Food Empowerment Project. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  2. Williams, Dave (November 30, 2012). "A staunch advocate for food empowerment". The Community Voice. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  3. Lagally, Christie (March 8, 2016). "Food Empowerment Project comes to Seattle". Queen Anne & Magnolia News. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  4. "F.E.P.'s Board and Advisors". Food Empowerment Project. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  5. "Public health enemy". September 3, 2007. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2017 via LA Times.
  6. "F.E.P.'s Chocolate List - Food Empowerment Project". Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  7. Hartglass, Caryn (May 20, 2014). "lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project". Responsible Eating and Living. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  8. "California Senate Bill 1443, retrieved on June 22, 2008". Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  9. Shining a Light on the Valley of Heart's Delight
  10. Letter to Clif Bar, May 31, 2011,
  11. "F.E.P. Alert March 20, 2012: Encourage Clif to raise the bar on child slavery!". Food Empowerment Project. 20 March 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  12. Humphrey Hawksley (May 4, 2001). "BBC News - AFRICA - Ivory Coast accuses chocolate companies". Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  13. "Food Empowerment Project Announces Clif Bar Campaign Victory - Food Empowerment Project". 2 December 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  14. "The T.O.F.U. Grant: Round Six". T.O.F.U. Magazine. August 5, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
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