Leah Lizarondo is passionate about food, health, and sustainability. It has driven her from the beginnings of her career to in Southeast Asia as product manager to her current success reshaping Pittsburgh’s thinking about our local food system.
Leah is the founder of The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a social enterprise aimed at saving fresh perishable food from going to waste by distributing it to organizations that serve those who are food insecure. Her award-winning writing about the local food world appears regularly in Pittsburgh Magazine and via NEXTPittsburgh.
“I have been an active advocate for food access and health in the community, and the opportunity to contribute to the great work that Just Harvest has been doing for nearly 30 years is an honor that I am looking forward to.”
Leah is particularly excited about Just Harvest’s new Healthy Corner Stores initiative, which will be getting underway in the upcoming months (so stay tuned!). “Many recent studies have shown that putting grocery stores and healthy food within reach in food deserts is more complicated than an ‘if you build it they will come’ equation. I want to to be able to contribute some of the lessons I have learned from many years of work on the ground to help make this program a success.”
Our other new Board member brings the same spirit and impressive record of success. Jen Thoma has more than 20 years of experience raising revenue and building relationships for non-profit organizations in our region. She currently serves as the Major Gift Officer for Chatham University.
“I would like to commit my professional expertise and personal passion to help those who struggle everyday to obtain the food and housing that every person needs to survive in our community.”
Jen has already done much to accomplish this. In addition to having represented former City Councilman Patrick Dowd on the Food Policy Council, Jen worked with the Farmer’s Market Alliance to help establish diverse farmers markets in three communities—Farmers @ Firehouse in the Strip District, the Lawrenceville Farmers Market, and the Market Square Market in downtown Pittsburgh.
Citing “the persistent and invaluable role” of Just Harvest in its fight to end hunger, poverty and economic injustice in our community, Jen is clearly a committed supporter of our work. “Just Harvest has powerful and dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters who provide and support the disenfranchised to get the resources they need to survive. No one can fulfill their own potential without access to food and a basic living wage.”
Leah agrees. “Hunger is much more than an accessibility problem. Hunger is a problem of poverty; it is one symptom of a larger equity problem that we should all be aware of and doing something about.”