What is a Mobile Produce Pantry?

Hello World U.P. Followers,

Did you know that Richmond is one of the nation’s leading cities for the number of grocery stores per capita? Did you also know that Richmond is one of the nation’s leading cities for the most food deserts? That means that we have the most number of grocery stores per person, and yet we have the most number of people who lack access to grocery stores. I’m not quite sure how that makes sense, but studies show that is the case in Richmond. It’s clear that we have an ACCESS problem in the RVA, and World U.P. wants to do something about it.

At this point, you may have seen some posts on our social media sites asking for donations to build a Mobile Produce Pantry, but you’re probably still not sure what the heck a Mobile Produce Pantry is. Well, it’s a food pantry on wheels that stores and transports fresh fruits and vegetables, parks next to existing food pantries, and distributes produce to the members of the community.  Backed by Feedmore, we believe that this solution will improve community access to produce in an efficient way.

Now, I bet you’re asking – What a minute, World U.P. is an organization trying to make cultural education and awareness affordable, what does that have to fruits and vegetables? That’s a really good question – thanks for asking. Our theory is that when you create secure and reliable food sources for communities, you ultimately create Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, & Healthy Perspectives.

Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you were HUNGRY. Maybe you skipped lunch or you forgot to make it to the store that day or you forgot your wallet at home (I’m perpetually guilty of that) so you couldn’t make it to your favorite food spot while you were out running errands. It’s about 3pm and you are just so HANGRY (Hungry + Angry) that you could think of nothing else but getting food, and everyone else was just in your way. There is nothing on your mind but getting home and getting something in your tummy! Your only focus is that you need food, and you need it NOW.

Now, picture that first bite. Oh sooo good. Who knew food could taste like heaven? Bite after bite, as you become satisfied, your hanger slowly dissipates, and life is good again. That guy who cut you off earlier? He was probably just in a rush to make it to his next meeting. Your kid accidentally got stuff on his BRAND NEW shirt? Meh, that is why Tide Sticks were invented. Everything is suddenly OK.

Now imagine that you got home and the fridge was empty, you had no car, and that you couldn’t get to a grocery store – because the closest one was over a mile away. Imagine that the closest thing was a convenience store that sells chips, soda, alcohol, and quick foods, and that’s all you had available to eat, day after day after day. Your hunger would probably never go away. You probably couldn’t think about anything other than where your next meal is coming from. Even if you did eat a snack, you would probably be angry that something better wasn’t closer. Afraid that you cannot feed your family.

Anger. Hunger. Insecurity. Fear. Concern. – These are all things that prevent us from thinking clearly and openly. They prevent us from being able to have perspective and peace.

So, we want to build a Mobile Produce Pantry to help people have secure access to healthy foods, and to highlight the need for long-term grocery solutions in the food deserts, so that people are not hungry.

This summer consider attending one of our fundraisers this summer or donating to help us build this thing. Help us get food into bellies, and grocery stores into communities that need them.

If you have any questions about the Pantry, you can email me at liz.dukette@worldupfoundaiton.org OR I will be hosting a “Ask Me Anything” on Facebook on July 27th from 7pm to 8pm. Like our Facebook page and subscribe to our feed, and tune in to ask me anything about the Mobile Produce Pantry project. The harder the question the better – I like a challenge.

Until next time friends,



Thank you to our 2017 Donors!

Hi Friends,

As many of you may have noticed, our Impact Report for 2017 was sent out to our e-mail list earlier this week. The fact that we even have “impacts” to report to everyone blows my mind! I won’t belabor our accomplishments from last year, because I’ve written about them over and over and the report will be available on our website (just as soon as I figure out how to do that). I am however going to call out a number of people here and now and thank them for their amazing support! Throughout 2017 the following amazing people and businesses provided their support and enabled us to give back to the Richmond community!

Mandi Asbell
Nancy Blair
George Bourey
Kendra Butler
Jill Collins
Brookie Crawford
Linda Cummer
Joselito Diaz
Leigh Dillon
Eric Diton
Eli Drebin
Ellen Dukette
Jefferson Dukette
Kelly Flammia
Ashley Grant
Janice Hackett
Caasi Harris
Debbie and Jeff Hoch
Jessica Mawson
Lisa Newton
Audrey Peltz
Thomas Reichert
Christina Santini
Kayla Smith
Kevin Stacey II
Cody Symanietz
Sean Watson
Morgan Wright

Kate Burns
Emily Dukette
Nikki Proffitt
Kourtney Smithson
Red Eye Cookie Company
Richmond SPCA
Carie Staley
Alexandra Vega

Kendra Butler, Community Building
Devon Charles, Website Development
Jamal Greene, Community Building
Mallory Premock, Summer Intern
Kourtney Smithson, Photography

Of course, last but not least, I really need to give a shout out to last year’s board who all donated money, goods, and time, but also moved us forward with their creative thought and action. Ashley, Alex, Nick, and Vic – thank you for believing in this mission, taking action, and questioning me. Without you, there would be no World U.P. and I would not have my sanity.

Peace, Love, & Understanding,




The Value of Money

Dear Friends,

Lately, I’ve been pondering the value of money. We recognize that there are so many wonderful causes for people to donate to and only so many dollars in your bank account. As such, I wanted to share a few ways in which you can support ANY organization you are passionate about without spending a dime.

1. Share your story!

Stories communicate passion and purpose. Non-profits love to know why you love what they do. Better yet- they can use your story to influence others to get involved or generate donations.

2. Volunteer!

This may be the most obvious, but a lot of non-profits operate on a volunteer basis. Any amount of time you can donate is highly valued. Odds are most organizations are happy to work with you to find a way for you to utilize your skills. Are You social media-obsessed? Offer to help with posts. Are you a writer?  Help write a grant. From organizing to painting, there’s always a way to help.

3. Become a Community Partner!

A lot of organizations share the same goals or have similar missions. If you’re involved in an organization but support others, find a creative way to work together! Often times organizations have programmatic dreams but lack resources. Think creatively – share space, networks, supplies, or marketing channels! If you’re a business, offer up space in exchange for a marketing/social media push – and find yourself some new customers.

4. Fundraise!

Most non-profits are heavily reliant on the donations from friends, family, and strangers.  Fundraising is no longer stuck in the past of door to door knocking or collecting pledges. A lot of organizations have options where you can create a personal fundraising page (peer-to-peer) that attaches directly to their website or are set up to collect donations on Facebook. Create a special fundraiser for your birthday, your next marathon, or just because. Set-up usually takes less than 10 minutes, and you can collect donations in minutes with little work.

5. Pass on the word!

Word of mouth is stronger than money in a lot of cases. Tag them on your social media accounts. Like and share their pages. Tell your friends.

So those are my 5 “Free” ways to support an organization. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below, or send me an email at liz.dukette@worldupfoundation.org. During March, we will be highlighting how you can use these ideas to support us, so be sure to follow us on Instagram (@world_up_) and like our page on Facebook (The World UP Foundation)! And of course, follow this blog to be notified of my musings on non-profit life.

Peace, Love, & Understanding





5 Reasons To Remember World U.P. on #GivingTuesday

As we approach the beginning of the holiday season, I want to share our “Top 5” reasons to support the important work that the World U.P. Foundation is doing. We are thankful for the support we have received and look forward to the work yet still to be done.

On Tuesday November 28th we are participating in #GivingTuesday, which is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

I wanted to share a little more about why you should remember World U.P. Foundation on #GivingTuesday.

While we encourage giving year round, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season and the end of our fundraising year. Having grown in popularity over the last 5 years, I recognize that you will have so many amazing charities to choose from when #GivingTuesday hits. Any donation given to an organization that makes a positive impact on understanding, peace, and diversity is a wonderful contribution! I’ve thought long and hard about what compelling arguments I can make to kindly request you keep the World U.P. Foundation in the forefront of your minds on November 28, 2017. So, here you go!

  1. World U.P. has a track record of successful community impact. We may be a young organization, but we are dedicated and capable. Within the last 6 months we have launched our two goal programs for this year, Gear U.P. and Food U.P. Through Gear U.P., and in only 3 weeks, we were able to provide 70 families who are served by the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority with back packs and school supplies to send their children to school with tools for educational success. Through Food U.P., we have been able to provide families in Highland Park access to fresh fruits and vegetables in connection with their local food pantry. We not only want to replicate these efforts in the new year, but want to expand these programs to have a larger impact.
  2. World U.P. is fervently dedicated to using responsible and ethical spending practices. This means that we don’t use money to fund lobbying responsibilities, fund personal endeavors, or to support any activities that do not create a benefit for the communities we are trying to support.
  3. World U.P. is completely volunteer based. Currently, no one in the organization is monetarily compensated by the organization. Everyone person on our team donates their time and services. Often times, the little things we need to operate (stamps, paper, etc.) are paid for and donated by our team members.
  4. Our World U.P. Board of Directors are our #1 supporters.  Our Board puts their money where their heart is. We don’t just believe in the mission, every Board member is so personally connected to our mission, that they have pledged personal yearly donations and fundraising pledges as well.
  5. World U.P. believes that our donors are our clients. Our philosophy is that people make personal donations, because of a personal connection to our mission.  It’s our responsibility to make sure that the people who believe in us and our mission can see the success their donation has created.

After a week busy with eating, visiting, and shopping…

Tuesday is dedicated to Giving.

We hope you will join us by making a gift to the World U.P. Foundation.

With Understanding & Peace,


A Letter From The Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our new and improved website. Thanks to my dear friend and previous RVA resident, Devon Charles, our webpage looks professional, clean and bright!

I thought that I would christen our new web presence by finally  posting a letter from the World U.P. Executive Director, me. I’ve been fighting this post for a while. You see, this letter hasn’t come easy, because there’s the letter to everyone that I should write, and then there’s the letter that I need to write. The version I should write is poised, professional, inspirational, and creates confidence in the community that I have every ability to create the most diverse, dynamic, and successful non-profit that the Richmond community has every seen. I should write you a cover letter that makes you want to donate all your time (and money) to World U.P., and tells you numbers and statistics.  I should reiterate my professional experience for you and why I’m qualified to be an Executive Director. In fact, I want every person to know all these things, but the problem is that should has never worked for me. Instead, I’m going to share with you what I need to write. If you want my qualifications, I’m happy to share my resume.

The letter I need to write gives you the raw honest truth as to why World U.P. exists, the amazing people I get to work with, and what exactly it is we are trying to accomplish. I’m going to share my heart. So, stick with me friends, because once my heart starts talking – it’s difficult to shut up.

In June 2016, I asked myself a very difficult question – Why does so much hate exist in this world? While I didn’t know the answer (and doubt I ever will), I knew that I had never felt so blessed to be a privileged, educated, moderately traveled, white woman in this century. Living in a time when we literally have access to the world at our fingertips, I never understood how it is that we can still hate people we haven’t met and so easily judge the people we have. While there are many explanations and theories out there, I tend to think that it all boils down to fear. Fear of the vast unknown and finding out that all the things we have come to so firmly believe isn’t true. Fear is the biggest stimulant of hate and judgment – it motivates some and isolates others. So, how do we overcome these fears? Personally, I think that experiencing our fears head-on and learning about our fears unveils three things (1) the hidden beauty of the thing we fear, (2) how to differentiate the good in the fear from the bad, and avoid the bad, and (3) we are capable of more than we can imagine. So, if fear cultivates hatred and judgment of others,  then theoretically experiences our fear can cultivate love, peace, and understanding.

I believe that cultural experiences helps mitigate racism, religious intolerance, and hate.The problem is that there’s a HUGE portion of society that don’t have access to classes on religions of the world or language classes, much less access to travel. I think that anyone who wants to have cultural experiences, should be able to have them, for free. People shouldn’t have to choose between surviving and becoming a citizen of the world. I think that’s a problem – and it turns out that a lot of people agree with me.

I have to say, I frequently get overwhelmed by how many people feel as passionate about this mission of World U.P. as I do. Let’s talk about some of those people for a moment, shall we? Once you’re done reading my long post – take a look at our Team Page. Look at those smiles! Aren’t they some of the most beautiful and sincere people you have ever seen? I feel blessed EVERY SINGLE DAY that I have found such wonderful people to work with in this organization. We push each other, we compliment each other, and above everything else we support each other. When we get together to laugh, talk, plan, develop, and coordinate – it doesn’t feel like work. To me, it feels like hanging out with some of my best friends. We are all vastly different, but we who share an amazing mission/vision to live in a peaceful society that is a melting pot of races, religions, foods, music, arts, and languages – a culturally diverse melting pot, if you will.

So, these amazing people and I got together and decided to try and create opportunities for people who cannot afford them. Opportunities to learn about other cultures. Opportunities to travel. Opportunities to interact with people they wouldn’t normally meet. Opportunities to experiences things that are traditionally expensive or availability, that to some they seem frivolous or are what dreams are made of, and ten months later, here we are. Over the next few months we hope  to roll out a few programs (which can be seen on our home page) that can broaden people’s horizons and further cultivate a community of cultural understanding and peace.

I hope that this blog becomes a place of community inspiration, education, motivation, and information for anyone who wants to start something big or just see a more peacefully diverse society. All the -ations, really. Most importantly, I want this blog to be a sea of voices, not just mine, so I ask (and beg) you to contact us with questions, comments, articles, stories, etc. that think would make great content for our site.

Thank you in advance for joining us on this journey, supporting us, and tolerating my over use of terrible puns and dad-humor.

Peace, Love, & Understanding,

Liz Dukette