Organization: Polo's Pantry
Melissa Acedera is the daughter of Filipino immigrants who set their roots in Los Angeles, California. She is a community organizer working in the intersection of food justice and houselessness issues. She has over 13 years experience working in food research, compliance, and logistics in food and beverage. Bridging her knowledge of food systems from a corporate lens and her work in community organizing, Melissa has a unique and valuable understanding of food, environmental, and housing justice issues. As a response to food scarcity and injustices she saw while organizing in Skid Row and other areas in Los Angeles, Melissa founded Polo’s Pantry in 2018, a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting for just futures in food systems through mutual aid, advocacy, and community building. She also co-founded Home-y Made Meals in March 2020, a mutual aid network of cooks, drivers, and suppliers — a community-powered food system helping feed unhoused and food insecure communities across Los Angeles and Orange County.
Melissa lost her father to complications from Type 2 diabetes almost two decades ago and recently her oldest brother to heart failure. Navigating these painful losses and her own lived experience of hunger and poverty, rooted her passion in organizing for healing through healthy food access and knowledge + power building in immigrant and poor communities. She is passionate about advocating for solution building led by people with lived experiences.
Melissa is an active member of the California Hunger Action Coalition, Services Not Sweeps Coalition, a proud madrina and community partner of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and Lideres Campesinas, and is currently part of UCLA's 2023 Activist-In-Residence Cohort.