101 Organizations to Watch in 2014

Food Tank compiled a list of 101 organizations playing a vital part in creating a better food system. (shutterstock)

There's no shortage of organizations around the world who are working to create a more sustainable, more just food system. Food Tank is honored to highlight many of these groups every week, showing the world that solutions to alleviating hunger, poverty, obesity, food waste, and environmental degradation not only exist, but have huge potential to be replicated and scaled-up.

Organizations like La Via Campesina, are encouraging small farmers to pursue local solutions to regional food security; the Savory Institute is teaching holistic management practices to ranchers; and organizations, like Oldways and Slow Food International, are determined to preserve the benefits of traditional foods.

To help readers stay up to date, Food Tank has compiled a list of 101 organizations to watch in 2014.

All of these organizations are playing a vital part in creating a better food system and Food Tank is excited to highlight their stories of success, hope, and innovation in 2014.

Action Against Hunger | ACF International—Recognized as a leader in the fight against malnutrition, ACF International runs programs in over 40 countries.

African Biodiversity Network—This regional network was established in 1996 to preserve Africa's biodiversity. African Biodiversity Network educates and engages citizens in developing healthy communities based on biological, cultural, and spiritual diversity.

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD)—Launched in 2008, AWARD is a mentorship program in which top female agricultural scientists team up with smallholder female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa Rice Center—Africa Rice Center aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa through research and development. One of the major tasks of the Africa Rice Center is the advancement and introduction of rice varieties that create resilience in agriculture.

Ag Innovations Network—Part of Ag Innovations Network’s mission is to bring people together to create a better food system. With a deep interest in sustainable agriculture, Ag Innovations Network creates opportunities for individuals and communities to understand what needs to change to create a better future for food and farming.

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture—Arcadia is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In addition to a farm on the historic grounds of Woodlawn Estate in Alexandria, Virginia, the Center has a Mobile Market, a 28-foot rolling farm stand that serves nine neighborhoods in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Ashoka—Ashoka operates worldwide (3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries) with private, philanthropic and citizen sector players to provide start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors in the interest of social entrepreneurship. Their Nutrients for All program emphasizes the importance of improving nutrient density in food and agriculture.

AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center—This 41 year old organization is at the forefront of highlighting why everyone should eat their vegetables. With regional centers in Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan, and Fiji, The World Vegetable Center works to improve not only nutrition, but incomes for small-scale farmers.

Australian Center for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR)—ACIAR is part of the Australian Aid Program, the Center encourages Australia’s agricultural scientists to use their skills for the benefit of developing countries as well as Australia.

Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance—When Australia’s Labor Party committed itself to creating a National Food Policy, the citizens responded with this alliance. The alliance was incorporated in 2012 with a nine-member managing committee. Today, the AFSA works with policy-makers to ensure fair balance and true representations of citizens’ food interests.

Bioversity International—Bioversity International provides scientific evidence of the important role of on-farm and wild agricultural and forest biodiversity in building a more nutritious, resilient, productive, and adaptable food and agricultural system.

Bread for the World Institute—Bread for the World is an organization dedicated to ending hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Bread for the World uses their voice to change policies, programs, and conditions of hunger.

Center for Food Safety (CFS)—CFS, a national non-profit and advocacy organization, seeks to curb the use of harmful chemicals and practices in agriculture.

Center for Health and the Global Environment Harvard University—The Health and Sustainable Food Program at the Center is working to inform eaters and institutions about the impact of their diets. Led by chef and National Geographic Society Explorer, Barton Seaver, the Center is working to “promote healthier people, more secure food supplies, and thriving communities.”

Change Food—Change Food’s vision is to help shift the U.S. food supply to a regional, sustainable food system where healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all.

The Christensen Fund—Founded in 1957, The Christensen Fund is a cultural ally for indigenous groups around the world. The Fund seeks to establish partnerships and implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as highlight the importance of indigenous and traditional crops.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs Global Agriculture & Food program—The program promotes discourse on global agriculture issues and produces the Global Food for Thought news brief to provide updated information, commentary, and analysis on global agricultural development and related issues.

City Harvest—City Harvest collects excess food from all segments of the food industry and delivers it to 500 community food programs throughout New York City. The organization also serves to educate the public on food issues ranging from sustainable agriculture to diet-based disease prevention.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)—CIW is a human rights organization addressing the issues of farm labor abuse, and improving farm worker conditions and wages.

Community for Zero Hunger—Sustainable food sources require community action. The Community for Zero Hunger is designed to be the community-based arm of the United Nations Zero Hunger Challenge. The Community is a central repository of international agencies, government and institutional academic research—all geared toward meeting the Zero Hunger Challenge.

EcoAgriculture Partners—Built to support rural livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and create sustainable solutions, EcoAgriculture has both a conservation and development strategy. The Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Initiative provides research in 13 landscape sites around the world.

Edible Communities—Edible Communities is a publishing and information services company that creates editorially rich, community-based, local-foods publications in distinct culinary regions throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Edible Schoolyard—Edible Schoolyard evolved from the Chez Panisse Foundation, and the project serves as a model for the integration of gardening, cooking, and preparing sustainable food into core academic curriculum for public schools.

Environmental Working Group (EWG)—A health and advocacy organization, the EWG works to produce the insight, through research, that spurs partnering organizations to create a healthier and cleaner environment and a more sustainable food system.

Fair Food Network (FFN)—FFN is based off the belief that everyone has the fundamental right to healthy, fresh, and sustainably grown food. FFN works to provide access to food, especially in underserved communities by implementing model programs and bringing people together.

Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)—Brokered in the mid 1960s to cooperate for common gain, the FLOC operates on two key principles: farmworkers need a unionized voice and all parties need to be part of the conversation. FLOC works to improve labor and housing conditions and to increase wages through collective bargaining agreements.

Feeding the 5000—A global campaign designed to inspire communities to consider the costs of wasted food, Feeding the 5K works at the international level to create solutions in the area of food waste. Feeding the 5K is also leading the cause behind The Gleaning Network—an initiative to save wasted English fruits and veggies.

Food + Tech Connect—Food + Tech Connect, brings together the leading thinkers and do-ers in the food, agriculture, health, and technology industries to build a network of innovators to transform the business of food. 

Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)—FANRPAN 's goal is to free Africa of hunger and poverty. FANRPAN objectives are to promote the development of appropriate agricultural policies in order to reduce poverty, enhance food security in Africa, and promote sustainable agricultural development in Africa.  

Food and Water Watch (FWW)—FWW works to ensure the food, water, and fish consumers eat is safe, accessible, and sustainable. Their website provides information to eaters, advocates, and activists to make change in the food system.

FoodCorps—FoodCorps is a public private partnership that places emerging leaders in limited-resource communities to teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from.

Food Democracy Now (FDN)—FDN is a grassroots movement of 650,000 farmers and citizens across the United States advocating for locally produced food and equal access to quality food. FDN aims to recreate regional food systems, supporting the growth of humane, natural and organic farms, and protecting the environment.

Food for Life—This project is active in over 60 countries worldwide. Food for Life volunteers serve more than three million, free, plant-based meals every day.  

Food for the Hungry (FH)—FH is a Christian organization dedicated to serving the poor for over 40 years. FH addresses hunger through short-term emergency relief as well as long term programs in more than 20 countries.

Food Recovery Network—A few years ago, a group of enterprising University of Maryland students decided to take action and launched this initiative with the goal of delivering cafeteria leftovers to local food shelters. It has since expanded to 11 chapters on campuses across the U.S. Students involved in the Food Recovery Network visit their campus dining halls nightly to rescue leftover food and deliver it to local shelters and food pantries.

Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN)—The Food & Environment Reporting Network is a non-profit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Food First/Institute for Food & Development Policy—Food First, a food system think tank, works to augment social movements in the fight for food security. Food First was founded in 1975 and works to inform eaters, farmers, and policymakers about local solutions to global food issues.

Food MythBusters—Food MythBusters is working to tell the real story of how food is produced through short films. Through collaborations with different individuals and organizations, Food Mythbusters is proving that we can have a food system that is truly affordable, delicious, fair, and good for the planet.

Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies (FUSIONS)—FUSIONS hopes to tackle the issue of food waste throughout the supply chain, working with farmers and retailers to make sure less-than-perfect-looking produce isn't wasted. And they work with grocery stores to offer discounts to consumers on products that are nearing their expiration dates.

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)—GAIN is an alliance driven to end malnutrition created in 2002 at a U.N. Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children. GAIN promotes public-private partnerships and has worked with 600 companies and civil society organisations in more than 30 countries, reaching an estimated 667 million people with nutritionally enhanced food products. 

Global Crop Diversity Trust—Global Crop Diversity Trust is an independent international organization working to guarantee the conservation of crop diversity around the world.

Global FoodBanking Network—The Global FoodBanking Network works to support and enhance existing food banks and create new food bank systems around the world.

Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)—GFAR seeks to be the nexus of discussion concerning the future of agriculture. Focusing on global advocacy, institutions for the future, partnerships, and the spread of knowledge, GFAR provides a connection between scientific research and farming methods.

Grow Biointensive/Ecology Action—The organization educates and trains farmers around the world to establish high-yielding, sustainable agriculture systems that emphasize local food production and culturally appropriate techniques. Grow Biointensive farming techniques have been adopted in Mexico, Kenya, Argentina, Ecuador, Russia, Uzbekistan, the U.S., and other parts of the world. The organization also provides workshops and research publications.

Growing Power—Growing Power was founded by former pro-basketball player Will Allen and engages youth and people from diverse backgrounds by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food.

Hands for Hunger—Hands for Hunger is committed to eliminating unnecessary hunger and reducing food waste through creating partnerships within Bahamian communities, and developing food recovery and education projects.

Heifer International—Heifer International has been working for more than 70 years in communities around the world, helping farmers practice better animal husbandry and develop more environmentally sustainable sources of food production.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)—Since the early 1970s, IFPRI has sought to improve the understanding of national agricultural and food policies to promote adoption of innovations in agricultural technology. In May, they’ll be bringing together advocates, researchers, scientists, and policy makers from all over the world at their Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security conference in Ethiopia.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)—The Institute works to counter globalization, builds innovative economic models, and monitors overuse of agricultural antibiotics. They are also encouraging eaters, farmers, and policy-makers to think beyond the next Farm Bill and focus on better food policies.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)—A specialized agency of the United Nations, IFAD was established in 1977. The fund was designed to finance development projects for food production in developing countries. IFAD works directly with rural poverty groups to raise income levels and to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)—IITA seeks to increase agricultural production in a sustainable way to help improve the nutritional status and well-being of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

International Land Coalition (ILC)—ILC is an alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organizations promoting equal access to land for women and men around the world by creating awareness and education.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)—IWMI is a non-profit organization that focuses their research on improving how water and land resources are managed with the aim of improving food security and reducing poverty while safeguarding water supplies.

James Beard Foundation—Renowned author and teacher, James Beard was an avid culinary educator. The James Beard Foundation continues in his honor. By looking at food issues from a breadth of perspectives: economic, political, entertainment, and culture, the Foundation works to prove that food’s meaning extends far beyond the plate.

Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)—With a central goal of fighting obesity, Food Revolution is urging Americans--and especially schools--to rethink the American diet. Oliver suggests teaching kids how to cook and urges parents to find out what their kids are eating at school.

Last Minute Market (LMM)—LMM works with farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers to reclaim food that would have otherwise been wasted. Founded by Andrea Segrè, LMM now runs food donation programs in more than 40 Italian communities.

La Via Campesina—La Via Campesina (“The International peasant’s voice”), was established in 1993 as a network of small-scale agriculturalists. Comprised of 150 local groups from 70 countries, LVC represents close to 200 million farmers. LVC works to encourage small farmers to pursue local solutions to their regional food sustainability issues.

Landesa Rural Development Institute—Landesa was created for the more than two billion people who live on less that US$2.00 a day. The organization works with governments in developing countries to implement policies and programs that ensure better land rights.

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture—The Leopold Center is a research and education center at Iowa State University. The Center works to identify and reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of agriculture, while developing more sustainable ways to farm and protect the environment.  

Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW)—LFHW works to educate the public on how to reduce food waste in day-to-day activities. The program is funded under the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and provides cooking strategies and recipes aimed at minimizing food waste.

More and Better—Established in 2003, More and Better is a complementary network built to support social movements, civil society and a core group of national unified campaigns resolved to fight against poverty and hunger. More and Better members define the level of support needed, lobby decision makers, and facilitate international practice exchange.

National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)—NFFC is a North American organization which represents family farms and rural groups who face economic challenges of rural communities. NFFC collaborates with international and domestic organizations who share their goal--to promote a secure, economically stable, healthy, and safe food system.

Native Seeds/SEARCH—This organization conserves, distributes, and documents seed diversity as well as the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—With more than 1.4 million members, NRDC is a staunch defender of Earth’s resources. Their ground-breaking work on food waste in the U.S. is helping consumers and retailers save money and protect the environment.

Oakland Institute—An independent policy think tank, Oakland Institute works to create research in eight key areas: land rights, high food prices, sustainable food systems, foreign investments, international aid, trade agreements, climate change and poverty. It is Oakland Institute’s key mission to increase public participation and encourage fair debate in each area.

Oldways—Oldways is an advocate for healthier eating by educating the public about the benefits of traditional cooking embracing culture and heritage.

One Acre Fund—One Acre Fund has developed an innovative model to help farmers improve yields by providing them credit for farm inputs, providing those inputs within walking distance of their farms, and making sure that farmers are able to sell their harvest at a profit. By 2020, the organization will serve 1.4 million farm families.

Oxfam—Oxfam is a confederation of 17 organizations working together to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. Oxfam America’s recent Behind the Brands campaign is highlighting how some of consumers favorite brands have hidden costs—to farmers, food security, and the environment.

Partners in Health (PIH)—PIH’s mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. With offices in more than ten countries, PIH provides medical treatment and food supplements to malnourished children.

Postharvest Education Foundation—Postharvest offers training materials, e-learning programs, and mentoring opportunities that help farmers around the world prevent food loss. Their postharvest management guide is available in ten languages, featuring topics such as how to choose the best time for harvest and the advantages of different transportation methods.

Prolinnova—Prolinnova is an NGO-initiated multistakeholder program working to promote local innovation in sustainable agriculture. They focus on indigenous and traditional knowledge work to promote resilience among farmers, pastoralists, and fisherfolk. Among its many goals, the organization is working to highlight the importance of participatory research and build stronger farmer-extension-researcher partnerships.

Rainforest Alliance—The Alliance works to protect biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use and farming techniques, business practices, and consumer behavior. Their vision is "a world where people and the environment prosper."

Real Food Challenge (RFC)—Started in 2008, RFC is a mobilization of mainly students advocating for the shift of US$1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and, instead, toward local and community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources by 2020.

Re:char—Re:char uses innovative technology to help farmers grow more food. They develop and deploy small biochar production system in the developing world to increase farmers' yields.

Restaurant Opportunity Centers (ROC)—ROC’s mission is to improve the wages and working conditions for the U.S. restaurant workforce. Since it’s founding, ROC has successfully conducted restaurant justice campaigns, provided job training and placement, opened its own cooperative restaurant, and conducted research and policy work.

Rodale Institute—The Rodale Institute is a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For more than 60 years, Rodale Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing their findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world. They advocate for policies that support farmers, and teach consumers organic agriculture is good for both people and the planet.

Rural Women Making Change (RWMC)—RWMC is a Community University Research Alliance (CURA) in Canada that supports rural women’s projects for change in three areas—women’s organizations’ day to day work; women’s and girl’s everyday experience; and gender and rural policy in trans-local arenas.

Save Food from the Fridge—Jihyun Ryou, Korean designer and expert on food preservation, launched this project that attempts to prevent waste in homes. She outlines several ideas for keeping foods fresher longer without the use of modern kitchen technologies. In addition, she has also created a collaborative blog where anyone can submit their own innovative food storage ideas.

Savory Institute—The Savory Institute was founded in 2009, to combat climate change and environmental degradaton by teaching sustainable, holistic grazing practices to farmers and ranchers worldwide.

Scaling Up Nutrition—Scaling Up Nutrition is a worldwide organization that works with national leaders to incorporate nutrition into all development decisions with a core focus on empowering women.

Seed Savers Exchange—Seed Savers Exchange is dedicated to the saving and sharing of organic, heirloom, and non-GMO seeds.

Soil Association—Founded in 1946, the Soil Association works to ensure that organic systems are being used whenever possible. The Association encourages new solutions to climate change, improvements to animal welfare and greater biodiversity support. The Food for Life Partnership teams up with local schools to transform dietary choices of thousands of young students.

Slow Food International—Designed to counter fast food and fast life, this 100,000 member-supported association takes on biodiversity projects, food education and connects young people through the Slow Food Youth Network. Slow Food works on three interconnected principles: good diet that is part of local culture; clean food production; and fair consumer prices.

Sustainable Food Trust—With the belief that everyone is in a position to influence a change, Sustainable Food Trust works to enhance production of quality foods. Through research and by examining the close relationship between farmers, consumers, industry-leaders and policy-makers, the Trust takes a closer look at what needs to be done to improve the food system.

Stone Barnes Center for Food and Agriculture—Located just 25 miles from Manhattan, New York, Stone Barnes Center is a non-profit farm institution. With goals of creating healthy and sustainable food systems, Stone Barnes Center works to increase public awareness of sustainable choices, train farmers environmentally techniques, and educate youth of farming choices.

TEDx Manhattan—TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share deep discussion. TEDxManhattan is organizing "Changing the Way We Eat," led by Diane Hatz, founder and executive director of Change Food, to help bolster and create news ideas in the sustainable food movement. 

The CookBook Project—The CookBook Project trains local leaders worldwide to use food culture and cooking program curriculum in their own communities. The goal is "to empower youth worldwide to cook REAL food with family and friends to reverse the global obesity and chronic disease epidemic."

The Hunger Project—The Hunger Project works in partnership with grassroots organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop effective bottom-up strategies empowering people to overcome hunger and poverty. Programs teach self-reliance and foster partnerships with the local government.

Think.Eat.Save.—A campaign of the Save Food Initiative, this partnership supports the United Nations Zero Hunger Challenge. Think.Eat.Save takes a closer look at food production and how much is lost and wasted at each step of the production process.

Thousand Gardens—Thousand Gardens in Africa is a project under the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity that is working to cultivate more than 1,000 food gardens in schools, villages and on the outskirts of cities in 25 African countries.

Transform Nutrition—A consortium of six organizations, Transform Nutrition pushes nutrition up higher on the political agenda and works to create more effective action to improve nutrition. 

Union of Concerned Scientists—The Union of Concerned Scientists works to ensure that all people have clean air and energy, as well as safe and sufficient food. UCS combines technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

Wallace Center at Winrock International—The Center serves the growing community of civic, business, and philanthropic organizations involved in building a good food system in the United States. The organization is working to advance regional efforts for a healthy, green, fair, affordable food system into larger scale markets to benefit more producers, consumers, and businesses.

WhyHunger—WhyHunger is a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment.
 

Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN)—WFAN is a community of women involved in sustainable agriculture, working primarily in the U.S. Midwest, and exists to give female farmers the opportunity to exchange information, support, and help each other in creating a sustainable food system.

Women for Women International—This organization works in eight conflict zone countries to provide women survivors of war tools and resources to become self sufficient. This includes; bread-making, caring for livestock, and farming.

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)—ICRAF is an international institute headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, that specializes in generating and using science-based knowledge about the diverse roles of trees in agricultural landscapes to advance the practice of agroforestry, for the benefit of the poor and the environment.

World Farmer’s Organization (WFO)—WFO is an international organization “of farmers for farmers,” to bring together farmers with the goal of developing policies that favor farmers around the world, particularly smallholder farmers.

World Food Programme (WFP) School Meals—WFP School Meal’s vision is to reduce hunger among schoolchildren so that hunger is not an obstacle to their development. WFP provides meals to around 22 million children in 60 countries, often in the hardest-to-reach areas.

World Resources Institute—WRI is a global research organization working closely with leaders to turn big ideas. According to their research, the world will have to close a gap of nearly 70 percent between the amount of food available today and that will be required in 2050. WRI is researching ways to reduce agriculture’s impact on climate, ecosystems, and water to secure a sustainable food future.

World Rural Forum—A liaison between research centers and cause-driven associations, the WRF is a forum for issues of rural development. The organization defines itself as a network, covering five continents. It believes its duty is to facilitate fruitful interaction between different agents in rural environments.

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