8 Groups Working Toward Food Justice

Our bodies rely on wholesome, freshly-harvested food to stay healthy and be our best selves every day. As working hours increase while wages fall, individuals often turn to inexpensive processed meals and snacks to survive, and agricultural workers are forced to speed up production, sacrificing their well-being. Many groups have formed to demand change from factory farms and other systems that affect long-term food security, individual health, and the environment. This list, in no particular order, shares some of them.

The #1 entry is The Charlie Cart Project, an organization that works to develop affordable and comprehensive food education initiatives, with the hopes of giving kids the power to make healthy choices for life. The all-in-one program is both a kitchen on wheels and a full curriculum with classroom-tested recipes, designed to connect the dots between food, health, and the environment.

The Charlie Cart Project was founded in 2015 by the former director of the Edible Schoolyard Project, Carolyn Federman, and a team of educators and designers. The program has been brought to several institutions, like libraries, food banks, K-12 schools, and farmers' markets. Advisors for the initiative include Michael Pollan and Alice Waters.

Coming in at #2, we find the ProTerra Foundation, a nonprofit working to advance and promote sustainability at all levels of the feed and food production system. Businesses that wish to become members of the organization must adhere to eco-friendly practices, including but not limited to: sustainable production, conservation of natural resources, and assurance that workers and local communities are treated with dignity and respect.

Members of the organization include Nordic Soya and KI Sugar Group. Every year, ProTerra hosts a conference to discuss the impacts of GMO soy farming. Most of it, done in South America, is associated with widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous people. The organization seeks to establish a benchmark for soy harvesting that is fully sustainable.

Up next, at #3, we have HEAL Food Alliance, located in Oakland, California. By bringing together groups from various movements for food and farm justice, this nonprofit aims to build collective power toward transformative change. It works on this goal by driving campaigns that advocate for policies addressing inequities in the health, environment, agriculture, and labor sectors.

The group's Platform for Real Food is a 10-point agenda crafted by 50 organizations representing rural and urban farmers, fisherfolk, food chain workers, communities, scientists, public health advocates, environmentalists, and indigenous groups. It is intended to be a call to action and a political compass for transformation, requesting increased nutritional literacy, an end to factory farming, and dignity for workers, among other demands.

Next up, at #4, we present Change Food, which strives to discover healthy food trends at the grassroots level and propel them into the mainstream. It does this through community building and collaboration, developing marketing collateral and resources, events, and social media campaigns. The organization was founded in 2013 by social entrepreneur Diane Hatz, who has hosted several "Changing the Way We Eat" events for TEDxManhattan.

The nonprofit hosts get-togethers for those interested in farmer and grocery distribution. The meet-ups' goals are to uplift smaller organizations and communities doing food justice work, discover new programs and activities being done to solve critical issues, and build a video library of crucial work being undertaken around the United States to share research and information.

For #5, we have Community to Community Development, located in Bellingham, Washington. It is an eco-feminist, women-led organization striving to redefine power to eradicate settler colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy in all external and internalized forms. Its Food Sovereignty program fights to secure farmworker rights, transform the food system, and enact agro-ecology. The latter encourages democratic, decentralized decision-making by farmers and incorporates practical, low-cost, and ecology-based technologies for agricultural businesses.

It is an eco-feminist, women-led organization striving to redefine power to eradicate settler colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy in all external and internalized forms.

Community to Community has a teaching garden where local farmworkers can learn and practice agro-ecological harvesting methods. In 2018, the group hosted the first Pacific Northwest Peoples' Agroecology Encuentro. It organizes many other events, including marches and rallies supporting the men and women who toil in the fields.

In the #6 spot, we get Chilis on Wheels. This nonprofit, started in November of 2014 by Michelle Carrera, makes veganism accessible to communities in need through services such as meal shares, food demos, clothing drives, and mentorships. The organization does not have one singular location; rather, it operates a network that spans several cities and regions, including Honolulu, New England, and Washington, D.C.

Chilis on Wheels is a completely volunteer-run organization. Participants can help with food preparation, meal distribution, or tabling, and can represent the nonprofit at health fairs, block parties, Veg-Fests, and other events. The group also donates vegan dog food to its clients upon request.

The #7 entry is Real Food Media, a women-led group that uses a wide range of communication tools, including video, radio, podcasts, social media, public speaking, and storytelling, to foster food system transformation. Based in Chicago, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area, it has created many educational resources to help people deepen their understanding of some of the most crucial farm and nutrition system issues, including through a monthly book club.

Real Food Films is the organization's international competition for short films on farming and sustainability. One finalist was "Homeward," a movie about farmers in Hidalgo, Mexico, who create an agricultural cooperative that grows organic oregano. The documentary was directed by Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine.

Concluding our list at #8, we come to Real Food Challenge, which was founded in 2007 by several student activists and higher education sustainability experts. The group's aim is to amplify student voices and focus collective efforts on change in higher education and its relationship to the food industry. It believes that young people are the driving force in this movement because of their ability to demand and achieve widespread structural and social change, particularly by holding institutions accountable.

Uprooted and Rising is a sub-group of Real Food Challenge. It is a network of campus-based pods and community-based networks organizing local and national campaigns for food sovereignty, trying to create a culture shift around these political issues through public action, digital organizing, and creative storytelling. One campaign is focused on beverage companies' practice of stealing water and later bottling it up to sell back to consumers.