Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) has honored Oceanside’s Vallie Gilley, a small business owner and non-profit leader, as the 36th Senate District’s 2021 Woman of the Year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no in-person ceremony this year to honor Gilley and the other women of the year chosen by state legislators.
“Vallie Gilley’s efforts to serve her community during these challenging times make her a worthy honoree,” said Senator Bates. “Through her work as a chef, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, Vallie has uplifted Oceanside by helping to address hunger and improve the environment. I am proud to highlight her inspiring work in the California Legislature.”
Gilley is a fourth generation Oceanside resident and has been the proud owner and operator of Jitters Coffee pub for more than 18 years. She is CEO and founder of Feeding the Soul Foundation, a local nonprofit that raises funding and creates awareness for other local nonprofit causes by organizing concerts and other events. Gilley is a chef and produces fresh baked goods and organic daily menu items for Jitters while keeping to seasonal and local produce when possible. She also has a successful catering business and hosts cooking classes and workshops.
Gilley is also the executive director and driving force behind O’side Kitchen Collaborative (OKC). The organization diverts edible food from landfills to nourish and educate the community through catering, preservation, and feeding. When restaurants were forced to close during the pandemic, OKC rescued surplus edible food from farms, restaurants, and food businesses for local residents in need. In 2020, OKC served more than 400,000 meals, diverted more than 350,000 pounds of food, and distributed 45,000 supplemental food boxes.
In accepting the Woman of the Year recognition, Gilley remarked, “It is an honor to be recognized by Senator Bates for my work to make Oceanside a better place to live for everyone. I enjoy providing delicious food to my customers and ensuring that surplus food goes to people in need instead of landfills. With the love and support of my community, I look forward to continuing to reduce hunger and improve our environment for many more years to come.”
Given annually by each California legislator in their districts, the Woman of the Year award celebrates California’s extraordinary women. The first recognition was held in 1987 to help commemorate Women’s History Month. The award has become an annual Capitol tradition to salute women who have done outstanding community service. Honorees are presented with a framed certificate from the Legislature recognizing their contributions.