Organizations Improving Access to Healthy, Fair, Affordable Food

By Charles Platkin, PhD

There are so many organizations working to help make a better, more interesting food system that, over the next few months I’m going to provide information about some of those organizations. The following are organizations that improve access to healthy, fair and affordable food.

Ceres Community Project (ceresproject.org)

  • What they do: The Ceres Community Project seeks to strengthen the community by sharing healthy, organic food. The project provides fresh, organic, home-delivered meals to low-income individuals who are too sick to shop and cook – all prepared by youth volunteers in a “soil to community” food system education program, nutrition classes, cookbook, catering services and a café with the aim of educating the public on eating right. Five thousand pounds of their produce, locally and sustainably grown whenever possible, is harvested on their own farm.
  • Their mission: “We create health for people, communities and the planet through love, healing food and empowering the next generation.”
  • Latest project/campaign: Their New Program Site opened in Santa Rosa, CA, is on the campus of an organization that provides housing, counseling and job training for youth who’ve been homeless, in the foster care system, or otherwise lacked the support they need. The site will include a 1/3-acre organic food garden by early 2017.
  • Location: Bay Area, California; headquarters located in Sebastopol, California.
  • Email and phone: info@ceresproject.org, 707-829-5833
  • Social media handles: Facebook: @cerescommunityproject, Pinterest: CeresProject
  • Director: Cathryn Couch
  • Date started: 2007
  • Major funding: CCP is primarily funded through individual, foundation, and in-kind support from other organizations. They also earn revenue through events and their own business operations.
  • Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
  • Annual budget: $1,932,505 (2015 annual report).
  • Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: The Ceres Community Project has inspired 11 communities around the country to launch programs based on CCP’s model. The organization provides a four-day training, access to a custom integrated data base system, operations manual and ongoing support and technical assistance through a national affiliate licensing program. By spreading the message of sustainable production and healthy eating, more Americans have the resources and education they need to live healthier lives.

Fair Trade (fairtradeusa.org)

  • What they do: Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers, protects fragile ecosystems, and builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label signifies that rigorous standards have been met in the production, trade and promotion of Fair Trade products from over 70 countries across the globe. Recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also provides critical capacity-building programs at origin, and educates consumers about the power of their purchase.
  • Their mission:We seek to empower family farmers and workers around the world, while enriching the lives of those struggling in poverty. Rather than creating dependency on aid, we use a market-based approach that empowers farmers to get a fair price for their harvest, helps workers create safe working conditions, provides a decent living wage and guarantees the right to organize. Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing, and invest in the future. Keeping families, local economies, the natural environment, and the larger community strong today and for generations to come; these are the results we seek through Fair Trade.
  • Latest project/campaign: Fair Trade USA’s newest product categories are coconut and seafood, which can now be found in stores across the United States.
  • Location: USA; headquarters located in Oakland, California
  • Email and phone: jlarson@fairtradeusa.org, 510-663-5260
  • Social media handles: Facebook: @fairtradecertified, Twitter: @FairTradeUSA, Instagram: @fairtradeusa
  • President & CEO: Paul Rice
  • Date started: 1998
  • Major funding: Fair Trade USA is funded through the certification fees that are paid by different companies along the supply chains that we certify. We also are funded through generous grants and donations.
  • Profit or nonprofit:
  • Annual budget: $13,737,358 (2015 financial statements).
  • Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: For every Fair Trade Certified product sold, farmers and workers earn an additional financial premium. Together, the community votes on how to use these funds to address their most pressing needs, for example, healthcare and education. A flower farm in Ecuador voted to fund cervical cancer screenings for women in the community. A produce farm in Mexico used part of their premiums to purchase school busses so that the kids won’t have to walk 2+ hours to school each day. The beauty of Fair Trade is that the farmers and workers are in the driver’s seat.

The Food Trust (thefoodtrust.org)

  • Who they are: The Food Trust has over 20 years of experience in working with farmers, policy makers, schools, food distributors, and community centers across the nation in order to increase access to healthy food and improve nutritional education. In addition to their work on the ground, The Food Trust also conducts research and advocates for policy change in order to secure long-term solutions to food insecurity.
  • Their mission: The Food Trust’s mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, we’ve developed a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.”
  • Location: USA; headquarters located in Philadelphia
  • Latest project/campaign: The Food Trust is hosting four Night Market Philadelphia events this year in order to support local food entrepreneurs and celebrate communities throughout the city. Visit org for more information.
  • Email and phone: contact@thefoodtrust.org, chuckabay@thefoodtrust.org, 215-575-0444
  • Social media handles: Facebook: @thefoodtrust, Twitter: @thefoodtrust, Instagram: @thefoodtrust
  • Director: Yael Lehmann
  • Date started: 1992
  • Major funding: N/A
  • Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
  • Annual budget: N/A
  • The Food Trust has extended its reach across the nation, working with local groups to bring healthy food to their communities. They also provide international consulting to communities who wish to increase access to healthy foods.

Slow Food USA (Slowfoodusa.org)

  • What they do: Slow Food works to ensure all people have access to “good, clean and fair” food. The organization encourages healthy patterns of consumption by connecting people into local chapters, creating a community-based network that supports local and sustainable producers.
  • Their mission: Slow Food International: “Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Our approach is based on a concept of food that is defined by three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair.” Slow Food USA: “Welcome to the table! We inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all.”
  • Latest project/campaign: Upcoming membership campaign is happening during September
  • Location: International/US
  • Email and phone: international@slowfood.com; chapters@slowfoodusa.orgcomms@slowfoodusa.org
  • Social media handles: International: Facebook: @slowfoodinternational, Twitter: @SlowFoodHQ, Instagram: @slowfood_international, USA: Facebook: @slowfoodusa, Twitter: @slowfoodusa, Instagram: @slowfoodusa.
  • Director: Carlo Petrini (International); Richard McCarthy (USA).
  • Date Started: Slow Food International was founded in Italy in 1989; Slow Food USA was founded in 2000.
  • Major funding: International: Slow Food International receives most of its funding through membership fees and sponsor contributions. USA:  Slow Food USA receives most of its funding through grants, membership fees, and individual donations (2015 annual report).
  • Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
  • Annual budget (international): €3,327,490 (2014)
  • Annual budget (USA): $1,647,066 (2015)
  • Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Slow Food believes the choices of consumers have a direct effect on the economy, environment, and methods of food production. Slow Food encourages the development of healthy patterns of consumption through education, local chapters, creating gardens, and supporting small-scale, sustainable producers. By increasing the demand for healthier methods of food production, consumers have the ability to change the food system for the better.

Wholesome Wave (wholesomewave.org)

  • What they do: Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to make locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable for the people who need them most. When people can afford produce, they buy it. And when the millions of Americans struggling with poverty eat more fruits and vegetables, we see immediate improvements for families and farmers—and enormous long-term gains for public health, local economies, and the environment. Our innovative initiatives serve more than 156,000 under-served consumers, as well as thousands of farmers annually, in 42 states and counting.
  • Their mission: “Wholesome Wave inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to locally grown produce.”
  • Latest project/campaign: Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program.The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program is an innovative solution to preventing and treating chronic diet-related disease. FVRx promotes affordable access to fruits and vegetables and healthy eating in underserved communities through partnerships with healthcare providers, community organizations and fresh produce retailers. FVRx is a proven evidence-based model of preventative health care with a demonstrated impact, resulting in healthier communities, food systems, and local economies.
  • Location: US; headquarters in Bridgeport, CT.
  • Email: info@wholesomewave.org, Press: wavewholesome@thedooronline.com
  • Social media handles: Facebook: @wholesomewave, Twitter: @wholesomewave, Instagram: @wholesomewave
  • CEO and Founder: Michel Nischan
  • Date started: 2007
  • Major Funding: Wholesome Wave is funded primarily through foundation grants, corporate support, private gifts, and government aid.
  • Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
  • Annual budget: N/A
  • Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Wholesome Wave’s “National Nutrition Incentive Network” has created a growing national community of food producers and distributors who wish to improve the access of their products to low-income shoppers. Through the network, food groups can communicate with other members across the country and have access to nationally-tested resources and training to fund their operation. This program not only makes good food a reality for underprivileged consumers – it allows local producers to reach a greater number of customers.
[Research and assistance by Alexina Cather, MPH]

Photo credit: Ceres Community Project






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