Editor's note: In "Food for Change," we'll profile groups out there connecting people to better food access. In this series we want to applaud the passionate people and organizations doing meaningful work with food in their communities. Please share tips for others to include in this column in the comments below.
- New refugees in the Kansas City area are being given a new life by New Roots for Refugees, a farm training program. New Roots helps refugees hone their agricultural skills and start small farm businesses. Each of 16 new immigrants tills their own 1/4 acre of land on a collaborative farm. The businesses sell their wares at farmers markets and through a Community Supported Agriculture program. The food is grown with no chemical inputs and includes a huge variety of produce.
- Upstate New York has many large prisons, and the state's prison budget is $2.5 billion. The state also has a huge dairy industry, with several hundred farms contributing to a $2.3 billion revenue stream. Milk not Jails attempts to partner these neighboring causes around issues of prison reform and farm preservation. The group advocates for a more lively agricultural economy as an alternative model to the prison economy perpetuated in some rural areas. A new "Milk not Jails" label makes it easy for consumers to shop for the cause. Their dairy products are currently available to CSAs in NYC.
- The Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. has an incredible diversity and number of programs to address hunger and teach healthy food choices. Their Feeding Hope programs involve connecting food and farm donations with hungry families; the Nourishing Change initiatives provide materials and experiences so children and adults alike can learn how to select and prepare healthy foods. And their Creating Sustainability programs provide jobs training and services to struggling members of the community. The group distributes over 30 million pounds of food to almost 500,000 people each year.
- Local Matters, in Columbus, Ohio, also takes a comprehensive approach to healthfulness. Their Food Matters program emphasizes food nutrition education in the classroom. Their Growing Matters program builds community gardens in neighborhoods around the city and brings residents together around a shared plot. And Cooking Matters equips adults with better culinary skills so they are more comfortable cooking meals from scratch. The group also runs a mobile produce distribution program, which participants can pay for with EBT.
- When your body is fighting off a disease, healthy food is a huge priority in the healing process. Cuisine for Healing, based out of Fort Worth, Texas, provides healthy and fresh meals for individuals recovering from or fighting illness. Qualifying patients can receive two meals per day at not cost for up to twelve weeks. The food is free of many chemicals and unhealthy ingredients. CFH also partners with local restaurants to create menu items that meet the group's healthy food standards.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.