HYBEAMS stands for “Heal your body, energy, attitude, mind, spirit.” How, exactly? Through something as simple as a green smoothie. The project is an initiative of Bay Area food sovereignty organization Planting Justice, which creates green jobs for people transitioning from prison. HYBEAMS started in January with a mission to teach people about nutrition while handing out free smoothies made from produce from the Planting Justice nursery.
The founder behind The Electric Smoothie Lab Apothecary, Kelly Curry, was tapped to train the staff. Every Monday became their nutrition and healing day. Then March came. “We had to sit down and talk about whether we were going to go out and do our healing booth,” says Curry. “All the schools we worked in were shut down. So everything was sidelined.”
After coming together, they decided to go to food banks in Oakland, San Francisco and the greater Bay Area to help develop a protocol to deliver smoothies that way. (Since the start of the pandemic, Bay Area food banks been a crucial resource for financially stretched families, with Alameda County Community Food bank distributing more than 4 million pounds of food per month.)
“There was this one mom with her daughter back in March,” remembers Curry. “This was the first day we did it, and I was just out there with our jar. And this little girl was like ‘Mommy, they have smoothies!’” Curry says that food banks don't always have fresh food items. It’s more common to see things like cereal and canned goods, so having that reaction from the little girl was really lovely for Curry. “The mom was like ‘Oh my god, I’m so glad there’s something local and fresh,’ and that was it for me. I was like, we got to keep doing this,” says Curry.