It’s inspiring that many organizations across Austin, Texas are working to build a stronger, more resilient urban food system.
The Texas Center for Local Food is pushing for the infrastructure required to build a robust, equitable food system. Little Herds and Keep Austin Fed, are working to ensure that Austin residents have enough to eat. And all are part of the movement to build more resilient local communities.
From March 11-18, 2022 Food Tank and its partners are hosting an incredible lineup of events at SXSW in Austin to bring attention to many of these organizations and other inspiring activists, chefs, and business leaders.
From food film watch parties to multi-day conversations focused on the future of food, these events will touch on the importance of reclaiming traditional foodways, the intersection of food, labor, and immigration policy, and much more. Learn more about all our events, featuring more than 150 speakers, and register here to join us virtually or in person.
And be sure to check out some of the amazing organizations promoting a better food system in and around Austin.
1. Austin County Food Policy Board
Established through a City of Austin Ordinance, the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Board advises the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court about ways to improve the food system. The Board works to address health disparities, increase local and sustainable food production, end food injustices, and ensure communities members have a voice in food policy decisions.
With a focus on the next generation, BRAVE Communities cultivates spaces for diverse people to come together and build more just and equitable communities. To support Austin residents facing food insecurity, BRAVE hosted a #MakeATXBRAVE Community Nourishment initiative. Goals included providing healthy food options to those experiencing food insecurity, raising awareness of hunger, health disparities, and systemic racism, and empowering young women to become agents of change in their own communities.
In the last year, Central Texas Food Bank reports that they were able to bring nearly 54 million meals to residents in need. They help the community by providing free food and educational resources with families, helping families connect to federal assistance programs, and making food affordable to charitable and government partners.
Community Resilience Trust (CRT) launched in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling issues ranging from food insecurity and homelessness to education and healthcare. Bringing together leaders from around the city, they aim to leverage community networks to make Austin and Central Texas more equitable for all residents.
5. El Buen
Taking a holistic approach to community wellness, El Buen works to address the needs of members of the Latinx and Spanish-speaking community in and around Travis County. The organization operates a food pantry and community garden where clients can grow their own food. They also offer educational programming and support access to health services.
Farmshare strives to build a just and equitable local food system by increasing community food access and cultivating new farmers. Their educational programming includes Farmer Starter, a 20-week course designed to help aspiring farmers manage a sustainable farming business, as well as community classes and workshops for working farmers. Farmshare Austin also brings fresh food directly to neighborhoods with higher rates of food insecurity through their Mobile Markets.
Fruitful Commons works to support Austin residents who are leading equitable and regenerative community agriculture projects. They provide organizational support, training and education, and consulting services to help communities achieve their goals.
8. GAVA – Go! Austin / Vamos! Austin
Led by community residents, GAVA is a coalition working to break down barriers to healthy living and neighborhood stability in Austin’s Eastern Crescent. Teams of organizers within GAVA help to identify challenges and lead efforts to improve nutrition, support climate resilience, and advocate for equitable policies and practices in their communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GAVA also put together a list of resources to help residents access food, telehealth services, and educational resources.
Green Corn Project works to help people with limited access to high-quality fresh produce grow their own organic food. With volunteer support, the organization installs food gardens for individuals and families in low-income areas of the city. They also work with elementary schools, community service centers, and refugee shelters to establish food gardens.
10. Little Herds
In 2013, Little Herds launched as an educational nonprofit to help educate and empower communities to use insects as a sustainable and economically viable source of nutrition. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization shifted focus to help local community members in need access healthy and nutritious food. They offer services for grant support and food incentives and contribute to Austin’s food rescue efforts.
11. Keep Austin Fed
Keep Austin Fed works to reduce hunger in Austin by redirecting surplus food to those facing food insecurity. The organization reports that their volunteers rescue thousands of meals each month. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to expand their efforts, identify new resources of surplus food, and collaborate with new partner organizations.
12. Saffron Women’s Trust Foundation
Saffron Trust works to provide assistance and resources to break the cycle of generational poverty, helping women and their families thrive. Their Feeding Austin Families program provides free fresh meals prepared by local chefs. Each week, women have the chance to order and pick up meals at one of Saffron Trust’s three locations.
13. Save the Food
Save the Food serves the local Austin community by rescuing safe, edible food from landfills and delivering it to community centers, soup kitchens, and food pantries across the city. They report that they are able to recover up to 2,200 kilograms of food each week and hope to increase the number to more than 9,000 kilograms in four years.
14. Slow Food Austin
A local chapter of Slow Food International, Slow Food Austin helps city residents reconnect with their food through educational initiatives, social activities, fundraising events, and volunteer projects. During the pandemic, Slow Food Austin is helping to stock community fridges to help local residents access fresh food.
Officially founded in 1993, Sustainable Food Center tackles food system issues including farmer support, cooking and gardening education, food access, and food policy. They also help to operate farmers markets to help farmers, ranchers, and other local food producers and artisans in Central Texas connect with consumers. Through these initiatives, they hope to transform the food system to ensure both people and the environment thrive.
16. Texas Center for Local Food
The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) is a project of the nonprofit organization, the Growers Alliance of Central Texas (Gro-ACT). Both run by farmer majorities, Gro-ACT and TCLF act as a primary contact for resources related to the Texas food system. They also work to stimulate and retain quality jobs in rural and semi-rural Texas, develop new markets and infrastructure for locally grown products, and help develop a robust food system that is equitable and sustainable.
17. The Cook’s Nook
The Cook’s Nook is a community of culinary professionals working to create businesses, events, and policies and provide food systems leaders with tools to succeed. Through their Keep Austin Together program, they partner with local organizations to provide nutritious, prepared meals for those in need. They also present the Conference on Food Resilience, Access, and Equity, an event devoted to fostering cooperation and collaboration and better address food systems issues.
18. Urban Roots
Through farming and education, Urban Roots works to cultivate leadership skills in youth and nourish the community. Each year, the organization offers paid internships and fellowships to 75 young people ages 17-23, who work alongside more than 1,000 volunteers to grow thousands of kilograms of fresh food. Since their founding in 2008, they have grown more than 188,000 kilograms of produce, and donated more than 84,000 kilograms.
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Photo courtesy of MJ Tangonan, Unsplash