7 Organizations Working To Improve The Food System

Healthy eating is critical when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing, yet access to nutritious food remains a privilege that too many people are prevented from having. The organizations listed here strive to correct this inequity by delivering meals and food programs to schools, community centers, and other areas in need, connecting people with the resources they need to thrive. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Groups Improving Healthy Food Access & Education

Organization Headquarters Location Mission
BC Farmers' Markets Vancouver, British Columbia Support, develop, and promote farmers' markets in British Columbia
FoodCorps Portland, Oregon Connect kids to healthy food in school
Liberty's Kitchen New Orleans, Louisiana Provide pathways for young people to create and achieve their vision of success
ExtraFood San Rafael, California Help end hunger and wasted food in Marin County
Eat REAL Richmond, California Empower school districts to make food delicious, nourishing, and responsible
Feeding San Diego San Diego, California Connect every person facing hunger with nutritious meals by maximizing food rescue
Real Food for Kids Arlington, Virginia Collaborate with school communities to elevate the quality and character of school food, develop and deliver programs that advance literacy in nutrition and health, and engage students, parents, and schools in building a culture of health that spreads to their homes and communities

FoodCorps' Impact in Schools

The Prevalence of Global Hunger

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Year Number (in millions) of undernourished people Percentage of undernourished people
2005 947.2 14.5%
2010 822.3 11.8%
2011 814.4 11.6%
2015 785.4 10.6%
2016 796.5 10.7%
2017 811.7 10.8%

The Three Main Types of Local Hunger Relief Organizations

  1. Food bank: Stores donated food and distributes it to charities, meal programs, and food pantries
  2. Food pantry: Gives directly to those in need, often unprepared food to low-income families
  3. Meal center (aka soup kitchen): Serves prepared meals to the homeless and hungry

The Story of Liberty's Kitchen

In Depth

Food is an important part of life. However, issues around access, nutrition, and literacy can present a challenge to some populations. Fortunately, there are several groups dedicated to eliminating barriers to healthy eating. Here, in no particular order, are organizations helping to make nourishing fare available to everyone.

Entering the list at #1 is BC Farmers' Markets. Its mission is to support, develop, and promote farmers' markets in British Columbia. The Vendor Membership program helps growers, makers, and bakers expand an existing business. Among the benefits it offers are networking opportunities, research and advocacy, and marketing.

The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program is a healthy eating initiative that partners with community organizations to provide discounts to lower income families, pregnant women, and seniors involved in its food literacy projects. The vouchers can be used at participating sites to purchase vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, meat, and fish.

The vouchers can be used at participating sites to purchase vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, meat, and fish.

At #2 is FoodCorps, which teams with local communities in order to connect kids to healthy eating options in school. Service members collaborate with educators to teach students cooking, gardening, and tasting skills. Additional activities include field trips to local farms, coordinating visits from chefs, and helping to plan family cooking nights.

The FoodCorps Reimagining School Cafeterias initiative encompasses the Tasty Challenge, which presents kids with a fruit or vegetable prepared at least two different ways, allowing them to vote on their favorite. The Flavor Bar encourages students to customize their meals with sauces, spices, and condiments. Each program is designed to inspire students to experiment during lunchtime.

Coming in at #3 is Liberty's Kitchen in New Orleans. It includes dine-in locations, a catering business, and community food access projects. Young adults who are facing challenges receive training to help them gain employment and education. The Youth Leadership Program provides the organization's alumni with continued support and opportunities for professional development. They are eligible to participate in field trips and workshops.

Young adults who are facing challenges receive training to help them gain employment and education.

In partnership with local organizations, Liberty's Kitchen launched the Good 2 Go stores to provide the community with access to affordable and nutritious food. Customers can pick up cut fruit packs, and those with limited shopping options can pre-order grocery boxes for delivery. The company and its mission have been featured in the Times-Picayune, Eater, and HLN.

Up next at #4 is ExtraFood, which rescues excess fresh food from businesses for delivery to nonprofits that serve children, adults, and families in Marin County, California. The Community Meals program gives restaurants and other organizations that don't have surplus food to contribute the opportunity to prepare dishes to donate instead.

Its Next Generation Scholars program blends rigorous academics with social services such as housing resources, a complimentary clothing store, and food. The initiative focuses on meeting the basic needs of low income middle and high school students in order to help them succeed in class. Kids receive two hot meals plus a snack each day, which allows them to focus on their studies.

The initiative focuses on meeting the basic needs of low income middle and high school students in order to help them succeed in class.

In the #5 spot is Eat REAL. It provides evidence based standards and third party assessment to school food service directors and leadership to measure their practices in nutrition and sustainability. Registered dietitians offer guidance on menus, sourcing, facilities, and equipment. In addition, it helps districts design and customize action plans.

The Eat REAL Restaurant Certification program, which is modeled on the LEED ratings system, works with caterers, corporate cafeterias, hospitals, and universities. Among the establishments it has certified include Marist College Dining, Green Tomato Grill, and Fresh Thymes Eatery. CEO & founder Nora LaTorre is the recipient of a Visa and IFundWomen grant, which equips female entrepreneurs with resources for the global expansion of their businesses.

At #6 is Feeding San Diego, which is on a mission to connect people facing hunger with nutritious meals by maximizing food rescue. Among the underserved populations it works with are seniors, college students, and families. Its BackPack program gives children a bag filled with fresh produce and staples such as peanut butter and canned goods for weekends and holiday breaks.

Its BackPack program gives children a bag filled with fresh produce and staples such as peanut butter and canned goods for weekends and holiday breaks.

In partnership with such agencies as the USO and Courage to Call, Feeding San Diego provides food to local military sites including Camp Pendleton and Armed Services YMCA. Through a farmers' market style distribution, families can access fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods for their households. Media coverage of the organization includes MSN and The Coast News.

Wrapping up the list at #7 is Real Food for Kids. It collaborates with school communities to elevate the quality of meals. The Culinary Challenge initiative gives children the opportunity to provide input on what is served in the cafeteria. Student teams research and develop recipes, with the entries judged by celebrity chefs, industry professionals, and kids. The winning dish is added to the lunch menu.

The Fresh Food Explorers aims to increase at-risk preschoolers' exposure to and consumption of fresh vegetables. This program offers children the chance to hold, smell, and taste a variety of vegetables, participate in related activities, and combine the produce into a finished dish which they sample.