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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

NA Announces Umi Feeds as Give Back Winner

Sustenance. Health. Community. Repurposing. Human dignity. These are some principles of Natural Awakenings magazine.

They are also the guiding principles of Umi Feeds, the Atlanta nonprofit chosen by NA Atlanta’s staff to be the recipient of one-quarter page of free ad space each month to help the relatively new nonprofit get their word out to the community.

Started in 2015, Umi Feeds serves meals to the homeless and others, mainly using food that is still edible but about to expire, donated by area grocery stores. Most often serving out of Safehouse Outreach (SHO) in Atlanta. “I think that’s what sets her apart, she’s not only cooking the meal herself, she’s taking the time to cook the food, but she’s also making a healthy meal so that’s really above and beyond,” says SHO office manager Melissa Holcombe.

Umi also has a food truck and travels to parks and festivals. Sometimes Chef Methuzulah teaches those who stop by how to create a meal with the donated food, said Umi Feeds founder and executive Erica Clahar, making dishes such as walnut tacos and lettuce wraps, or chick-pea-flour omelets.

No one is asked to pay for the food or show proof of economic status before eating at festivals or Safehouse.

“I don’t ask people to show anything, because so many people fall into a gray area. They might make too much for food stamps,” says Clahar. “I try to remove the barriers.”

Umi Feeds also offers haircuts, blankets and clothing items to those in need. In November, it held a double Dutch jump rope event that collected 200 pairs of socks for those in need.

Nominations for the NA Give Back program were open September 26 through November 3, with announcements posted on Natural Awakening’s Facebook page, in the Natural Awakenings Atlanta magazine and on social media with the help of The Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Staff members also nominated favorite Atlanta nonprofit organizations.

The initial list of nine local non-profits ranged from arts organizations to those fighting homelessness for the LGBTQ community. The organizations were researched using the following sources:;;; and Guidestar. org. NA staff took into account 990s, consumer and volunteer ratings, transparency, sources of income and finally, amount of income and total assets.

In 2016, Umi Feeds didn’t bring in the $25,000 needed to file a 2016, 990 tax form, according to Clahar. So researchers won’t find much information about the program on CharityNavigator. org and other such sites. And getting the word out for clothing, food donations and volunteers will be valuable to her organization, said Clahar. She also has an underlying message to promote.

“People have their pride. But I want people to know it’s community sharing,” said Clahar. “Everybody has something to share. That’s what we all should be doing, sharing skills and talents. It’s just community.”

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