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.
- Bake a Wish is a non-profit based in Austin, Texas that prepares birthday cakes for homeless, abused, or neglected youth. The group partners with local shelters and community organizations to provide a birthday experience for children who might not otherwise celebrate. The group has expanded to include the elderly and other disadvantaged populations in their work. With no paid staff and very low overhead, the group relies entirely on donations to do their good work.
- The Five Borough Farm project aims to create policy plans for incentivizing and encouraging urban agriculture in New York City. The group, a collaboration between the Design Trust for Public Space and Added Value, surveys the current landscape of urban agriculture in the city; creates shared resources for those farmers and producers; and works towards a more comprehensive policy approach for the city to deal with urban producers. The group has also created some amazing interactive tools for understanding the importance and value of urban agriculture.
- In Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Friendly City Food Co-op is a novel take on grocery shopping. They take the normal cooperative model and infuse it with a strong belief in supporting local economies, engaging vendors in co-op governance, and being as environmentally-friendly as possible in their retail location. The co-op has over 1400 member households, who all participate in electing the co-op's board of directors.
- Harvesters works in a 26-county region encompassing parts of Kansas and Missouri. The food bank collected and distributed more than 40 million pounds of food and household products to deserving communities in 2011. They create connections with local producers, vendors, stores, and manufacturers and encourage them to donate thoughtfully, not just to dump excess products on the food bank. Harvesters is therefore able to provide comprehensive home goods to those in need. The group has many diverse programs to serve all ages and situations.
- The Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C. is one of the largest anti-hunger organizations in the country. It partners with hundreds of small non-profits and works to improve public policies and eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the U.S. FRAC works on both state and national-level policies; their research and implementation model ensures that good ideas are seen to their best outcome. FRAC has been very involved in the discussions around this year's Farm Bill and advocating for more support to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
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.