Food Tank

34 Seattle-Area Organizations Working for a Better Food System

In preparation for the inaugural Food Tank Seattle Summit, Food Tank is featuring 34 organizations to watch in the area.

Food Tank’s Inaugural Seattle Summit is just a couple of weeks away, and we’re excited to connect and collaborate with our members and member organizations in the Pacific Northwest. The region is home to an array of groups working to grow nutritious food, reduce hunger, and promote sustainability, including nonprofits, foundations, university centers, and more!

The Summit, titled “Growing Food Policy,” will be held in partnership with the Environmental Working Group, Food Action, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability on March 17, 2018. The limited number of tickets to this event will sell out quickly, so CLICK HERE to reserve your spot.

Leading up to the Summit, Food Tank is highlighting 34 organizations to watch in and around Seattle, Washington.

1. 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living

21 Acres aims “to promote the benefits of local food systems within the context of climate challenges.” Their offerings include educational and cooking classes in their LEED Platinum-certified facility, a year-round Farm Market sourcing from farmers using organic or sustainable practices, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program designed to increase access to local and organic produce, and a Certified Organic farm.

2. Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability at Seattle University (CEJS)

This university center focuses on social, economic, and environmental justice and sustainability. They pursue goals such as “engaging local and global partners through projects that will directly benefit overburdened and underserved communities,” distribute information about university achievements and efforts such as The President’s Committee for Sustainability, and support academic and co-curricular endeavors in sustainability and environmental justice.

3. City Fruit

This nonprofit works to support the growth and use of fruit from urban orchards. Their goals include planting, protecting, and caring for fruit trees, as well as working with community members and groups to harvest the fruit, preserve it, and share the surplus.

4. Community Alliance For Global Justice (CAGJ)

This organization “seeks to transform unjust trade and agricultural policies and practices imposed by corporations, governments, and other institutions while creating and supporting alternatives that embody social justice, sustainability, diversity, and grassroots democracy.” Their work focuses on food justice, trade justice, and a campaign “to challenge the dominant development ideology pushed by governments, corporations, and ‘private’ philanthropic actors as they try to expand our corporate-driven, industrial model of agriculture into Africa.”

5. Community to Community Development

Community to Community Development is a grassroots advocacy and campaign organization dedicated to food sovereignty, defined as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” Under their food sovereignty program area, they focus on rights for farm workers, small-scale organic farming, transformational food initiatives, and agroecology. In addition, they highlight community leadership and local grassroots work through their Seeds of Justice Awards and their ecofeminist radio show Community Voz.

6. edibleSEATTLE

This magazine publishes articles about a range of food topics, including gardening and food producers and culinarians, in addition to providing online searchable tools for finding recipes and restaurants. Their seasonally-centered bimonthly issues highlight the Puget Sound area.

7. Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Familias Unidas por la Justicia, formed in 2013, is the first new farm worker union in the U.S. in a quarter-century and the first union in Washington State to be lead by indigenous workers. In June 2017, representatives of the union, which represents Mixteco and Triqui members, signed a collective bargaining agreement with Sakuma Bros Berry Farm, establishing a contract containing a series of specifications including average hourly wages, non-discrimination, and procedures for resolving disputes.

8. FareStart

FareStart offers free job training in the foodservice industry to youth and adults facing barriers to employment. They operate a series of restaurants and cafés, cater events, and supply meals to schools and social service programs in the Puget Sound area.

9. Fields Oceans Ranches Kitchens Stewards (FORKS)

Sponsored by the nonprofit Seattle Good Business Network, this volunteer organization engages chefs in promoting local and sustainable food purchasing. They also host events such as The Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection, a large convening of food industry players in Washington State.

10. Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team (FEEST)

This youth-led organization offers programming for high schoolers to cultivate young leaders who can enact change in their communities by advancing health, racial equity, and food justice. Their weekly community dinners bring together youth aged 13 to 18 years to cook an improvised meal from scratch and to discuss topics such as health inequity and social justice. In additional, their year-long internship program allows youth the opportunity to lead their own food justice campaigns.

11. Food Lifeline

Food Lifeline works to feed hungry people today while solving hunger for tomorrow. They provide 97,000 meals each day by redirecting good food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores, and restaurants that would otherwise go to waste. Each year, thousands of volunteers with their Hunger Solution Center help to repack and sort this food for distribution to more than 300 food banks, meal programs, and shelters across western Washington. They also lead advocacy efforts to shape policy and partner with organizations addressing the needs of low-income families to solve hunger for the future.

12. Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)

GRuB works with youth and adults to promote food justice and sustainability in their communities. Their youth programming includes field trips to the organization’s GRuB Farm and a program enabling high schoolers to earn school credits taking classes with GRuB. In addition, their Kitchen Garden Project—now more than 20 years old—builds gardens and supports new gardeners. The organization also runs a CSA that subsidizes produce for GRuB’s school program and food they supply to a food bank.

13. Got Green

This grassroots organization seeks to advance economic, racial, and environmental justice so that low-income communities and communities of color share in positive changes brought about by the green movement. They work to engage communities in building campaigns, and they have three committees focusing on Food Access, Young Leaders, and Climate Justice.

14. Grist

Founded in 1999, this nonprofit news outlet covers topics including food, climate and energy, and justice to inform readers and inspire action “toward a planet that doesn’t burn” and a better future. By naming the Grist 50 every year, they also highlight green leadership and innovation.

15. Landesa

From their global headquarters in Seattle, Landesa works on land rights reform around the world. They interact with farmers, engage with governments in policy and program development, and inform investors and stakeholders about social responsibility and gender equity in making land investments. In addition, the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights pilots projects focused on land rights for women and works to ensure the inclusion of women’s land rights in Landesa’s work.

16. Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC)

NABC supports farmers in northwestern Washington with business services such as marketing, sales, and loan or grant application assistance, as well as helping develop agricultural cooperatives, offering classes and workshops, and supporting farm-to-institution connections. They work in six countiesIsland, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom countiesto “improve the economic vitality of the agriculture industry” in the region.

17. Northwest Harvest

This nonprofit works to reduce hunger by providing meals through a network of food banks, schools, and meal programs across Washington State. The food they distribute to their partner food banks must be provided free of charge to individuals who ask for it. They also offer programs such as a Kids Summer Food Club and a program to support efforts to increase the availability of fresh produce from food banks.

18. Organic Seed Alliance (OSA)

This nationally focused nonprofit leads research, education, and policy advocacy efforts to “advance ethical seed solutions to meet food and farming needs in a changing world.” Through these efforts, they seek to share and generate knowledge to increase diversity in organic seed varieties. Some of their publications include reports on organic seed in the United States and guides for seed saving and plant breeding.

19. Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center

This nonprofit center occupies 230 acres of land, 30 of which make up a Certified Organic farm supplying food to local restaurants, retailers, and CSA customers, along with schools and agencies tackling hunger. They also maintain a Native Plant Nursery, work with individuals and organizations to restore habitats, conduct research, and provide opportunities for students and volunteers to engage in projects and educational activities.

20. P-Patch Community Gardening Program

Run through the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, this program maintains community gardens, enabling gardeners to grow food and steward land for public use. These gardens help to facilitate a range of initiatives, such as a Market Gardens program, which allows community members working in gardens located on Seattle Housing Authority property to sell the food they grow at farm stands accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards, and the Fresh Bucks SNAP/EBT matching program.

21. PCC Farmland Trust

This nonprofit land trust uses a variety of approaches to protect farmland, such as Buy-Protect-Sell, whereby the Trust buys the land and sells or leases it to farmers after removing development rights to the land through a conservation easement. The Trust uses multiple criteria for selecting properties, such as the physical characteristics of the land and the possibility for additional, non-agricultural benefits such as recreation and waterway restoration. They also offer community engagement opportunities through events and volunteering. The Trust was founded and is supported by PCC Community Markets, a member-owned and operated co-op bringing locally-sourced food to communities in the Puget Sound area.

22. Pike Place Market

Located in downtown Seattle and supported by the nonprofit Pike Place Market Foundation, this community brings together farmers, artisans, and small businesses, as well as an array of social services and affordable and low-income housing for residents. Their offerings include a farmers market accepting food assistance and matching programs, a CSA, and support for farmers.

23. Puget Sound Food Hub

This farmer-owned distribution cooperative facilitates the supply of locally farmed food to institutions such as grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and hospitals. They provide resources and information to both farmers and buyers such as a purchasing guide, aGuide for Farmers and Ranchers,” and information about each food producer.

24. Readers to Eaters

Founded in 2009, this publisher works toward food literacy among children and families. They have published a collection of illustrated books that tell some of the stories of the food system in a way that works to facilitate conversation. They take books straight to their readers through a pop-up bookstore that appears at events and farmers’ markets.

25. Seattle Farmers Market Association

Founded in 1990, this group organizes farmers markets to “provide fun and rewarding venues for Washington state small farms and artisans to bring their highest quality, locally-grown and crafted products to urban residents.” Their food access efforts include accepting EBT/SNAP, participating in Fresh Bucks, Fresh Bucks RX, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and donating excess produce.

26. Slow Food Seattle

This volunteer-run chapter of Slow Food USA is part of the global grassroots Slow Food movement and pursues a mission “to share the pleasures of the table through experiences that heighten awareness of artisanal and sustainable foods of our region and the world.” They offer events and opportunities for Slow Food members and others in the community to engage with the movement.

27. Sustainable Seattle

This nonprofit works toward a vision for 2020 where “Seattle anchors a region in which all residents, organizations, and businesses are engaged, empowered, and collaborating to secure a sustainable, equitable, and resilient future.” Their programming includes the Seattle Greendrinks networking event series and an Incubator Hub sponsoring and supporting sustainability projects.

28. The Beecher’s Foundation

This foundation seeks to “inspire people to eat real food and vote with every food dollar.” They offer youth and adult educational programs, such as the free Pure Food Kids Workshop for fourth and fifth-grade students and the Sound Food Uprising food systems education course. They also maintain an online Knowledge Pantry with recipes, toolkits, and other resources.

29. The Bread Lab at Washington State University

This university lab researches and breeds grains such as wheat and barley and works with food producers including farmers, bakers, and brewers to find the best uses for different varieties. For example, they developed and released Skagit 1109, a wheat variety developed to be grown in the coastal Pacific Northwest and used as whole wheat. The Lab’s Director, Dr. Stephen Jones, was recently named as Clif Bar & King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding & Innovation through a new US$1.5 million endowment to sustain the Lab’s research into organic grains.

30. The Non-GMO Project

This nonprofit third-party certifier administers a verification program to identify non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) products through the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. In addition, they provide support for retailers, marketing support for non-GMO producers, and information for consumers.

31. Tilth Alliance

This broad-based organization seeks “to build an ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially equitable food system.” Their work includes a range of initiatives, including training and support for farmers; educational programming focused on gardening, environmental stewardship, and cooking and nutrition; and food distribution programs such as a CSA and the Good Food Bags food access program.

32. Viva Farms

Viva Farms is a rapidly growing farm incubator that recently more than doubled its acreage. They aim to “launch a new generation of farmers” by subleasing land and providing resources such as technical assistance and capital to new farmers who are in transition to owning their own farms. Farmers can enroll in training courses and supply produce to Viva Farms’ CSA program.

33. Washington Food Coalition (WFC)

This coalition represents a large member network of hunger relief organizations in Washington State, offering events such as an annual conference and monitoring program and policy developments related to nutrition assistance. In addition, their Food Assistance Advisory Committee provides guidance to the Washington Food Coalition Board and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

34. Washington Young Farmers’ Coalition

Washington State’s chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition aims to help facilitate “a vital statewide agrarian revival.” They support new farmers by fostering social connections and providing resources such as skill-building workshops and information about various ways to obtain assistance. They also actively participate in policy conversations affecting young farmers in the state.


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