what we stand for

The C.O.O.K. Alliance is a completely volunteer-run advocacy coalition focused on legalizing home cooked food sales. We are committed to representing a diverse set of stakeholders in this work, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in food and labor policy decisions. Our two core principles are very simple— we are focused on:

  • Labor Justice: We believe in creating more inclusive opportunities in food for people who need them the most — stay at home parents, immigrants, and people of underrepresented minority groups. Cooking is a fundamental lever of economic empowerment, and the modern food industry has taken that away from many through its strict barriers to entry.
  • Collective Action: We believing in engaging with diverse communities, that this legislation should be grassroots and incorporate different stakeholders into advocacy efforts. Cooking should be a tool for solidarity — better connecting us with our neighbors, bridging socioeconomic divides, and building power in local economies.

Who we are (alphabetical) 

  Anna Blackshaw (Board Member)   Anna Blackshaw is a political consultant, activist, and photographer whose work for social justice has spanned the last two decades. She has worked as a consultant in the California Legislature for many years on issues of international trade and democracy, human rights, prison reform, economic justice, and gender equality. She is currently a coordinating committee member for Bay Area Showing Up For Racial Justice. She has been a contributor to Shafted, Free Trade and America’s Working Poor, and is the co-author of the award-winning book No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Just Foreign Policy.  “Although I have occasionally cooked for pay, my culinary playground has always been my own kitchen. I am passionate about the food traditions that bring depth, meaning and community into our lives.”

Anna Blackshaw (Board Member)

Anna Blackshaw is a political consultant, activist, and photographer whose work for social justice has spanned the last two decades. She has worked as a consultant in the California Legislature for many years on issues of international trade and democracy, human rights, prison reform, economic justice, and gender equality. She is currently a coordinating committee member for Bay Area Showing Up For Racial Justice. She has been a contributor to Shafted, Free Trade and America’s Working Poor, and is the co-author of the award-winning book No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Just Foreign Policy.

“Although I have occasionally cooked for pay, my culinary playground has always been my own kitchen. I am passionate about the food traditions that bring depth, meaning and community into our lives.”

  Brandi Mack (Board Member)   Brandi Mack is a Mother of three beautiful daughters as well as an Urban Farm(her), Holistic Health Educator, and Permaculture Designer. Brandi has worked and trained  ecological sustainability with youth and adults for over 15 years. Brandi is currently National Director of The Butterfly Movement. She also serves on the boards of The Northern America Permaculture Magazine, Northern California Resilience Network, and the Northern California Women in Permaculture.  “As a farm(her) and mother, I support AB 626 because we just recently passed tons of urban farming bills and that’s great, but we also have to think about how we can sustain ourselves. This is yet another way for us to take our produce, our fruit trees, and make products that we can sell from our homes. 626 is going to support what America talks about— allowing everyone to have a stakehold in it."

Brandi Mack (Board Member)

Brandi Mack is a Mother of three beautiful daughters as well as an Urban Farm(her), Holistic Health Educator, and Permaculture Designer. Brandi has worked and trained  ecological sustainability with youth and adults for over 15 years. Brandi is currently National Director of The Butterfly Movement. She also serves on the boards of The Northern America Permaculture Magazine, Northern California Resilience Network, and the Northern California Women in Permaculture.

“As a farm(her) and mother, I support AB 626 because we just recently passed tons of urban farming bills and that’s great, but we also have to think about how we can sustain ourselves. This is yet another way for us to take our produce, our fruit trees, and make products that we can sell from our homes. 626 is going to support what America talks about— allowing everyone to have a stakehold in it."

  Jaspal Sandhu, Ph.D (Board Member)   Jaspal teaches hands-on, interdisciplinary courses at the intersection of innovation, food systems, entrepreneurship, and health equity at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. At Gobee, Jaspal leads human-centered design efforts to drive innovation for the health of communities and populations.  Jaspal is a Lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley and the Managing Partner of the Gobee Group.  "I support AB 626 because we in public health are moving towards a more holistic approach in our policies and pursuing a longer horizon with our investments. AB 626 will enable such improvements in communities across California, in particular with micro-entrepreneurship, food access, and community-building."

Jaspal Sandhu, Ph.D (Board Member)

Jaspal teaches hands-on, interdisciplinary courses at the intersection of innovation, food systems, entrepreneurship, and health equity at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. At Gobee, Jaspal leads human-centered design efforts to drive innovation for the health of communities and populations.  Jaspal is a Lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley and the Managing Partner of the Gobee Group.

"I support AB 626 because we in public health are moving towards a more holistic approach in our policies and pursuing a longer horizon with our investments. AB 626 will enable such improvements in communities across California, in particular with micro-entrepreneurship, food access, and community-building."

 
  Lisette Silva (Board Member)   Lisette has seen firsthand how food can build community, improve well-being and offer entrepreneurial opportunity and it's her mission to make this possible for everyone. She is the Former Head of Cook Operations at Josephine, where she was responsible for food safety training, kitchen inspections, and small business training for hundreds of home cooks across the country. She also serves on the Board of Managers at the Berkeley YMCA.   "I support AB 626 because my grandmother nourished her family with her delicious cooking. Her skills in the kitchen also served as a way for her to earn additional income to make ends meet, but always under the radar. I want to see others have more financial self-sufficiency using this skill with proper training and without constant fear of legal repercussions." 

Lisette Silva (Board Member)

Lisette has seen firsthand how food can build community, improve well-being and offer entrepreneurial opportunity and it's her mission to make this possible for everyone. She is the Former Head of Cook Operations at Josephine, where she was responsible for food safety training, kitchen inspections, and small business training for hundreds of home cooks across the country. She also serves on the Board of Managers at the Berkeley YMCA. 

"I support AB 626 because my grandmother nourished her family with her delicious cooking. Her skills in the kitchen also served as a way for her to earn additional income to make ends meet, but always under the radar. I want to see others have more financial self-sufficiency using this skill with proper training and without constant fear of legal repercussions." 

  Liz Allen (Legislative Counsel)    Liz Allen is a lawyer, public policy specialist, and strategist who applies her unusual combination of experience in service of a more equitable future. Her favorite law to practice is the law that doesn't yet exist. Grounded in social justice, she believes that good policy is the foundation for any company or government. Liz has worked for the Washington State Senate, the Washington Supreme Court, the ACLU, the Child and Youth Legislative Advocacy Clinic, and as an Urban Leaders Fellow for Colorado Senator Mike Johnson.     "I am committed to ensuring that AB 626 is written as a well-considered policy that will not only be signed into law in 2018, but that will also be implemented in a way that supports economic justice for underserved communities beginning Jan. 1st, 2019." 

Liz Allen (Legislative Counsel) 

Liz Allen is a lawyer, public policy specialist, and strategist who applies her unusual combination of experience in service of a more equitable future. Her favorite law to practice is the law that doesn't yet exist. Grounded in social justice, she believes that good policy is the foundation for any company or government. Liz has worked for the Washington State Senate, the Washington Supreme Court, the ACLU, the Child and Youth Legislative Advocacy Clinic, and as an Urban Leaders Fellow for Colorado Senator Mike Johnson.   

"I am committed to ensuring that AB 626 is written as a well-considered policy that will not only be signed into law in 2018, but that will also be implemented in a way that supports economic justice for underserved communities beginning Jan. 1st, 2019." 

  Mariza Ruelas (Board Member)   Mariza is a food activist, cook, and single mom, who uses her platform to promote economic opportunity for others. She is a long-time advocate for AB 626, meeting frequently with legislators and stakeholders in Sacramento. Mariza’s activist work in support of home cooking has been covered by Time Magazine, the Guardian, and the Washington Post.  "I believe AB 626 is critical for creating economic opportunity in California. I've seen first hand how allowing neighbors to buy home-cooked meals can help bring people together and change lives."

Mariza Ruelas (Board Member)

Mariza is a food activist, cook, and single mom, who uses her platform to promote economic opportunity for others. She is a long-time advocate for AB 626, meeting frequently with legislators and stakeholders in Sacramento. Mariza’s activist work in support of home cooking has been covered by Time Magazine, the Guardian, and the Washington Post.

"I believe AB 626 is critical for creating economic opportunity in California. I've seen first hand how allowing neighbors to buy home-cooked meals can help bring people together and change lives."

 
  Matt Jorgensen (Coordinator)   Matt Jorgensen was cofounder and Co-CEO of Josephine, a social enterprise helping home cooks share food with their friends, neighbors, and communities. Josephine was committed to advocating for and empowering cooks— by intentionally engaging with diverse communities, sponsoring legislation, and incorporating cooks into decision making and ownership of the platform they are helping build. Matt has a bad memory, so he thinks a lot about the future. Specifically, he is excited about the possibilities for distributed ownership and more inclusive labor opportunities in the new economy.  "I am grateful to represent a group of activists and food entrepreneurs who care deeply about inclusive opportunities in the emerging economy. AB 626 is so much bigger than any one group or organization and has the potential to affect many California's communities immediately, as well as food policy across the U.S. for years to come."

Matt Jorgensen (Coordinator)

Matt Jorgensen was cofounder and Co-CEO of Josephine, a social enterprise helping home cooks share food with their friends, neighbors, and communities. Josephine was committed to advocating for and empowering cooks— by intentionally engaging with diverse communities, sponsoring legislation, and incorporating cooks into decision making and ownership of the platform they are helping build. Matt has a bad memory, so he thinks a lot about the future. Specifically, he is excited about the possibilities for distributed ownership and more inclusive labor opportunities in the new economy.

"I am grateful to represent a group of activists and food entrepreneurs who care deeply about inclusive opportunities in the emerging economy. AB 626 is so much bigger than any one group or organization and has the potential to affect many California's communities immediately, as well as food policy across the U.S. for years to come."

  Peter Ruddock (Advisor)   Peter is a food nerd who works on issues of policy, local economy and education in order to better our food system. He is in the process of establishing Agricultural Acts, an organization dedicated to forwarding his goals toward a better food system.  He also celebrates the good work being done in various ways through Green Omnivore.  "I support AB 626 because people are disconnected from their food and afraid of it. We need to change the culture to re-connect people to their food, returning joy to eating, making it healthier in the process."

Peter Ruddock (Advisor)

Peter is a food nerd who works on issues of policy, local economy and education in order to better our food system. He is in the process of establishing Agricultural Acts, an organization dedicated to forwarding his goals toward a better food system.  He also celebrates the good work being done in various ways through Green Omnivore.

"I support AB 626 because people are disconnected from their food and afraid of it. We need to change the culture to re-connect people to their food, returning joy to eating, making it healthier in the process."

  Xiomara Peña (Advisor)   As California Deputy Director & National Hispanic Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority, Xiomara manages relationships with a variety of stakeholders to promote smart public policy solutions and organize educational functions for the small business and entrepreneur community.  She is the Chair & Founding Member, Alumni Association, El Nido Family Centers Secretary & Founding Member, Junior Board, El Nido Family Centers Advisory Board Member, Women's Mentoring Collaborative Program.  "AB 626 will help legitimize microenterprise home kitchen operations in our state. We believe that home cook operations can be pathways to entrepreneurship and small business ownership for underserved populations. The bill aligns well with our goal of supporting small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, as it will enable home cooks--mostly women, immigrants, and people of color--to use their skills to generate income."

Xiomara Peña (Advisor)

As California Deputy Director & National Hispanic Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority, Xiomara manages relationships with a variety of stakeholders to promote smart public policy solutions and organize educational functions for the small business and entrepreneur community.  She is the Chair & Founding Member, Alumni Association, El Nido Family Centers Secretary & Founding Member, Junior Board, El Nido Family Centers Advisory Board Member, Women's Mentoring Collaborative Program.

"AB 626 will help legitimize microenterprise home kitchen operations in our state. We believe that home cook operations can be pathways to entrepreneurship and small business ownership for underserved populations. The bill aligns well with our goal of supporting small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, as it will enable home cooks--mostly women, immigrants, and people of color--to use their skills to generate income."

 

About the team

The C.O.O.K. Alliance is volunteer coordinated by Matt Jorgensen, who began work on home cooking legislation in late 2015 as cofounder of a social enterprise called Josephine, which shut down operations in early 2018. The Alliance draws support from numerous members of the former Josephine team, including policy director Liz Allen, who continues to provide technical support, cofounder Charley Wang, who continues to assist with organizing efforts, and Head of Cook Operations Lisette Silva, who helps represent the Josephine community by collecting cook feedback and serving on our Board. 

However, AB 626 always had a broad base of support that extended far beyond the Josephine team. In the past year, thousands of individuals have called or written to their elected officials, nearly 50K have signed a petition, and dozens of organizations have signed on as official co-sponsors of the bill. Supporters range from cooks and community advocates to small business and public health experts. As this coalition continues to grow, we are deeply committed to staying accountable and responsive to the collective will of as many stakeholders as possible. Our Alliance Board Members (listed above) represent a cross-section of key stakeholders and provide accountability by internally voting to take a position on any substantive AB 626 amendment proposals. The Alliance only advocates for changes that have the support of a majority of our Board members and C.O.O.K. Alliance Advisors also offer consistent feedback on our legislative direction.   

We are committed to fairly representing the diverse group of interests aligned behind this bill— especially those who have been historically underrepresented in food and labor policy decisions. Our group is 100% committed to working for the remainder of the legislative session to get AB 626 passed into law in 2018.