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.
- Food Lifeline works to eliminate hunger in western Washington. In 2011, the group distributed over 35 million pounds of food to hungry people throughout the area. Lifeline accepts donations from groceries, restaurants, pantries, and individuals to provide a comprehensive range of options for recipients. The group serves nearly 750,000 people each year, and continues expanding to best serve the state's hungry population.
- The People's Grocery in Oakland, California is one of the most influential organizations in the alternative food movement. Its subsidized Community Supported Agriculture program attempts to remove the cost barriers to local eating for low-income community members. By operating a for-profit retail store, the group is able to provide non-profit services to West Oakland such as cooking and nutrition education. The Grocery also runs a garden and greenhouse in the heart of West Oakland.
- A huge part of the local food movement is effectively connecting farmers with communities who are looking to support sustainable agriculture. The Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California works to transition farmers to sustainable production methods, get locally grown food into school cafeterias, and educate Californians on eating and buying local. The website has a handy search function to find sustainable producers in each county of the state.
- Certifications are an important way for consumers to know that their food was produced in a sustainable manner. Local Food Plus in Canada provides a "Certified Local Sustainable" label for farmers and processors that avoid chemical inputs, provide good working conditions for laborers, increase biodiversity and provide humane conditions for animals. The certification costs $600 for three years, and is now available across the country. Gourmet retailers and restaurants are serving products with the label.
- Urban Sprouts maintains educational gardens in several middle- and high-schools throughout the San Francisco area. They teach students cultivation and cooking skills, and engage families in growing their own garden plots. The group's work is focused in under-served communities. They partner with other garden organizations to provide a summer camp for students who are interested in learning more intensive skills.
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.