4 Groups Promoting Access To Nutritious Foods

Lack of proper nutrition can be an issue even in prosperous areas, as people turn to prepackaged and processed foods out of convenience. The organizations tackling this problem create educational materials, financial assistance programs, and partnerships between community institutions and local farms, in order to make healthy eating easier and less expensive. The companies and nonprofits listed here, in no particular order, work to bring wholesome nourishment to communities across the country.

Opening our list at #1 is Back to the Roots, a company helping children and families learn about organic horticulture by allowing them to grow their own food. It offers kits such as the Kitchen Herb Garden and the Mushroom Variety 3-Pack, which provide all the supplies customers need to cultivate edible plants and fungi at home, including nutrient-rich organic soil and reusable or biodegradable containers. Options range from simple windowsill planters to water gardens that enable experiments in hydroponic or aquaponic growing.

Back to the Roots offers a downloadable STEM curriculum to help kids learn about the science of gardening, and for every purchase documented on social media, its GrowOneGiveOne campaign donates a free kit with included learning activities to a classroom. The company shares simple and nutritious recipes incorporating ingredients that can be grown from its kits, and offers guides like a Seed Almanac and a Grow Quiz to help users get started.

Our #2 is Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture. Striving to strengthen farms and local food systems, this Massachusetts-based group conducts efforts like its Local Hero campaign, which encourages consumers to buy from nearby growers and eateries. CISA's online guide lets people search for locally-owned agricultural producers, farmers' markets, and other businesses in their areas, while its Technical Assistance program provides workshops and other educational resources to help food growers improve their operations.

The Senior FarmShare initiative from CISA delivers local fruits and vegetables to elderly individuals with limited income, and its Healthy Incentives Program provides rebates for users of supplemental nutrition benefits when they buy produce from farmers' markets and similar outlets. The organization also works with policymakers and partner organizations to support measures that promote local agriculture and food access, and offers financial assistance and disaster relief to growers in its area.

Next in the rundown is #3, Appetite For Change, an organization using food to promote health, prosperity, and justice in North Minneapolis. Its urban agriculture program turns unused land into farm plots, tended by community members using regenerative and sustainable gardening techniques, with the resulting produce sold at outlets such as the West Broadway Farmers' Market. These community spaces host training programs aimed at helping local youth acquire confidence, leadership skills, and job readiness training in the culinary field.

Community Cooks, the flagship program of Appetite For Change, organizes weekly nutrition and cooking workshops for new or expecting mothers and other area residents. The organization's food ventures, like Breaking Bread Cafe and Station 81, double as spaces for neighborhood gatherings and social justice conversations, while its Kindred Kitchen offers local entrepreneurs high-quality commercial kitchen space. AFC organizes the Northside Fresh Coalition, fostering community partnerships to build a more equitable food system.

Concluding our list at #4 is VT FEED, which works to grow farm to school programs aimed at helping students and communities engage with local food systems. Born from a partnership between several Vermont sustainable agriculture nonprofits, the group offers a variety of professional development programs teaching educators how to bring farm-based learning into the classroom. It also provides expert technical assistance in building partnerships with local growers, with the goal of enhancing education and child nutrition.

The Jr Iron Chef VT competition challenges students across the state to create nutritious, local dishes to inspire school meal programs, with the winning teams preparing their recipes for legislators at the Vermont State House. VT FEED advocates for policies to support the integration of sustainable agriculture into cafeterias and classrooms, and creates educational guides such as the Local Food Procurement Toolkit. Its Vermont Farm to School Network conducts research and raises awareness about the benefits of incorporating agriculture into education.