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.

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  • Foodlink works to serve hungry communities in Central and Western New York. Their numerous programs include a food bank, nutrition education, a farmers market, and summer meals for children. The group rescues and redistributes over 12 million pounds of food annually, to 450 member agencies across the region. They estimate that this food equates to 5,000,000 meals served each year. Foodlink also works to help regional small farmers find markets for their produce. Their website has helpful materials for starting your own food drive or food bank for your community.
  • The Food Trust is based out of Philadelphia, and has many initiatives centered around increasing the healthfulness of the urban community. They provide materials and assistance to parents who want to advocate for less soda and junk food in their kids' schools. Their Healthier Corner Store Campaign has received much attention for helping bring healthier food options to hundreds of corner stores across the city. The group also works with the city and state government to increase funding for programs to bring local produce into groceries and urban markets.
  • In South Florida, the Urban Oasis Project works to facilitate personal and community gardens in the region. The group helps plant and grow fresh produce, with the goal of eradicating the area's food deserts. They also create community around nutrition education and food production. Building these community connections allows for ongoing support for eating local and healthy.
  • Portland, Maine is a town with plenty of access to agricultural production, and Cultivating Communities is capitalizing on that access to unite residents around food production and access. The group has developed several urban farms in the city, and runs several CSA programs and farmers markets to provide access to local, delicious food for the community. Additionally, CC runs a training program for new immigrant farmers, providing classroom and field-based learning opportunities and community support.
  • MercyCorps allows you to purchase gifts for your loved ones that benefit disadvantaged populations around the world. From a goat to a new well, gifts large and small are available for purchase. Your donation goes towards providing that item to a family or community in need. The 501c(3) organization spends almost 90% of its funds on direct service.

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.

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