It’s the time of year for reflecting on what we have and finding ways to give back. And no one in our community is doing that with more passion than the LeanBack GiveBack Foundation, a Winston-Salem local nonprofit organization fighting food insecurity.
Just last week, LeanBack held its 5th annual block party in Bailey Park. The event, held on Saturday, Nov. 11th, was the fourth year the community outreach event was hosted in Innovation Quarter’s Bailey Park. Featuring free, hot meals for visitors, the block party also included musical performers, games and tables from several other Winston-Salem organizations including the free mobile health clinic from Winston-Salem State University.
The LeanBack GiveBack Foundation encompasses several initiatives, one of which being the annual block party, but also includes the LeanBack Kidz Cooking Club, GiveBack Fridge Project and Lean Into Her Mentorship Program—all established by its passionate Founder and President, Crissy Faison.
The LeanBack GiveBack Kidz Cooking Club is available to disadvantaged children and teens between the ages of 8 and 17 who have shown interest in the culinary field but do not have the resources to explore those interests. The club involves hands-on learning about ingredients, kitchen organization, personal hygiene and food safety as well as cooking and baking techniques.
“They’ll learn where good comes from and how to create healthy, nutritious meals that are also delicious,” Faison said.
Next is the GiveBack Fridge Project, which Faison said, “I am so excited about because we are launching our first [fridge] on April 25, 2024. There are 38 million Americans suffering from food insecurity, with 12 million of those being children. What that means to us is that our own neighbors and friends are hungry.”
The GiveBack Fridge Project has been LeanBack GiveBack’s unique way of fighting food insecurity and waste one community at a time. With plans to place fridges strategically in low-income neighborhoods, Faison and her team will collaborate with local restaurants to stock the fridges with ready-made food so that patrons may take what they need free of cost.
As an avid businesswoman herself, Faison then established the Lean Into Her Mentorship Program.
“A lot of women want to start their own business, but don’t know how,” she said. “Women can now come to us, and we can help them by getting them started and giving them a place to come to when things get tough.”
The name of LeanBack GiveBack was inspired by the satisfying feeling of “leaning back” after enjoying a delicious meal and was established by Faison after successfully launching her catering company, LeanBack Soul Food Company.
“I started the [then-named] LeanBack Giveback Thanksgiving Affair in 2018 as my way of giving back to a city that has given so much to me,” Faison said. “I am committed to serving the community in all the ways God intended for me to do. Whether it’s the GiveBack Fridge Project, the cooking club, or just inspiring and helping disadvantage women get their businesses off the ground, I will put my everything into it.”
Having recently celebrated the Block Party’s 5th year, Faison expressed the importance of hosting the event in Bailey Park.
“Bailey Park is in the center of downtown [Winston-Salem], it’s also close to shelters and walking distance from the bus depot,” she said. “The entire community can come together and that is what I love most.”
Innovation Quarter Director of Community Relations, Lindsey Schwab, also expressed the importance of partnering with the LeanBack GiveBack Foundation.
“The Innovation Quarter has partnered with LeanBack GiveBack for four years as the host sponsor in support of this annual event in Bailey Park,” she said. “[The block party] brings so much joy to our community while supporting its mission to empower women and children in pursuit of their culinary dreams.”
To learn more about the LeanBack GiveBack Foundation, head to their website at https://leanbackgiveback.org/