21 New York Organizations Working to Transform the Food System

by Alexina Cather, MPH

By Alexina Cather, MPH

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization recognizes the role that food systems play in human and environmental health. By working to change the current food system and shifting the way food is produced, procured, stored, transported, and distributed, organizations can improve nutrition and contribute to environmental sustainability.

The New York City Food Policy Center has compiled a list of organizations in New York working to transform our food system, thereby improving human health, reducing climate change, and preserving natural resources. The Food Policy Center at Hunter College reached out to the following organizations to learn more about and share their meaningful and exciting work.

If you would like to recommend an organization for NYC Food Policy’s next article on organizations working to improve our food system please fill out the form at the bottom of this article.

Brook Park Chickens

What they do: The volunteer-run chicken coop in the South Bronx raises chickens, hosts chicken workshops for other community gardens, and educates youth in schools about animal husbandry, health, nutrition, and how to keep chickens.

Their mission: To connect local residents with their food, help residents grow their own food, and share animal husbandry skills.

Location: Brook Park in South Bronx

Latest project: The organization is expanding their chicken project by purchasing more chicks and cleaning their coop. In addition to the chicken coop at their garden, volunteers give tours to schools to educate children about how to care for hens. The organization also hosts chicken workshops to teach other community gardens how to start their own chicken coop.

Contact: brookparkchickens.blogspot.com, [email protected]

Director: Lilly Kesselman

Date started: 2012

Major funding: Grant from Just Food and collaboration from Friends of Brook Park, funding from Citizens Committee of New York City

Profit or nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: $1,200 a year

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Our hens produce almost 3,000 eggs per year.


City Harvest

What they do: City Harvest helps feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger by rescuing approximately 150,000 pounds of food daily (55 million pounds this year) and delivering it free of charge to 500 community food programs across the five boroughs of New York City. The organization also advocates at the city, state, and federal level for policies and actions to alleviate hunger and food insecurity, and to ensure access to healthy and affordable food for all New Yorkers.

Their mission: City Harvest pioneered food rescue in 1982 and, this year, will collect 55 million pounds of excess food to help feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers struggling to put meals on their tables. Through relationships with farms, restaurants, grocers, and manufacturers, City Harvest collects nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it free of charge to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs across the five boroughs. City Harvest takes a long-term approach to hunger relief through its Healthy Neighborhoods initiative. In communities with elevated rates of food insecurity, poverty, and diet-related illnesses, City Harvest has developed programs and partnerships to increase the availability of affordable, free produce and inspire healthy, budget-conscious meal choices through nutrition education.

Location: New York City

Latest project: We plan to open our tenth Mobile Market this spring, in Brooklyn. We currently operate nine markets throughout the five boroughs. Mobile Markets are our direct distributions of free, fresh produce to residents in low-income communities – they are open-air, farmers’ market-style distributions serving some 500 residents per market.

Contact: www.cityharvest.org, [email protected], 646-412-0600

Director: Jilly Stephens

Date started: 1982

Sources of funding: Private individuals, corporate funding, foundation grants

Profit or Nonprofit, if profit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $115.6 million, see more here>>

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: City Harvest takes a long-term approach to hunger relief through its Healthy Neighborhoods initiative. In communities with elevated rates of food insecurity, poverty, and diet-related illnesses, City Harvest has developed programs and partnership to increase the availability of affordable, fresh produce and inspire healthy, budget-conscious meal choices through nutrition education.


Citymeals on Wheels

What they do:  Citymeals on Wheels provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to New York City’s homebound elderly. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 of our frail aged neighbors each year. Last year, over 15,000 individuals volunteered nearly 69,000 hours of their time.

Their mission: Citymeals on Wheels provides a continuous lifeline of nutritious food and human company to homebound elderly New Yorkers in need, helping them to live with dignity in their own familiar homes and communities. 

Location: New York City

Latest project: We recently launched the Citymeals Culinary Circle, providing chefs and other members of the food world greater opportunity to get involved with our mission. With our deep roots in the culinary community, the program brings together chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, editors and industry influencers who are dedicated to their homebound elderly neighbors.

Contact: www.citymeals.org, [email protected], 212-687-1234

Director: Beth Shapiro

Date started: 1981

Sources of funding: Thanks to our partnership with the New York City Department for the Aging, along with gifts from our board of directors and others designated for administrative expenses, we can promise that 100% of all donations from the public will be used entirely for the preparation and delivery of meals.

Profit or Non-profit, if profit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $20 million, see more here>>

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Launched in 2011, our Fresh Produce Program provides seasonal fruit and vegetables from local farmers to our meal recipients who live in food deserts. The program currently serves our homebound elderly neighbors in East Harlem, Flushing, and Corona, who are most at risk for malnutrition because they lack adequate access to produce. Last year we delivered 8,741 pounds of strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, cherry tomatoes, Italian plums and more.


Community Food Advocates 

What they do: Community Food Advocates, Inc. (CFA) is an economic justice-based policy and advocacy organization working to strengthen food and income support for low-income New Yorkers. Through a combination of innovative advocacy strategies incorporating in-depth policy analysis, knowledge of program operations, coalition-building, organizing and community engagement, our goal is to strengthen publicly-funded food and income programs and to maximize participation. CFA’s work focuses on the following programs: school lunch, summer meals, school breakfast, SNAP, cash assistance, and WIC.

Their mission: We are a New York City-based nonprofit focused on promoting the health and well-being of low-income New Yorkers by promoting policies that strengthen and support the full utilization of federal food programs.

Location: New York City.

Latest project: We spearhead the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign for universal free school lunch for all NYC public school students .

Contact: www.communityfoodadvocatesnyc.org, [email protected], 212-542-9083

Director: Liz Accles (Executive Director)

Date started: 3/11/2013

Sources of funding: Foundation grants and individual donations

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $412,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: We are a relatively new organization, founded in 2010, but collectively we have over a century (129 years) of experience fighting for food and economic justice.


Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

What they do: Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot organic vegetable farm located on a rooftop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. During New York’s growing season, farmers supply an on-site farm market and deliver fresh produce to local restaurants via bicycle. The Farm-Based Education team also partners with the organization Growing Chefs to host educational and volunteer programs.

Thier mission: N/A

Location: Brooklyn

Latest project: N/A

How to reach the organization: rooftopfarms.org, [email protected]

Director: Annie Novak (co-founder and farmer)

Date started: 2009

Sources of funding: N/A

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: For-profit

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: The Eagle Street Rooftop Farm’s Farm-Based Education staff, working with Growing Chefs’ curriculum, hosts a range of workshops for children and adults. Topics include growing food in New York City, seed-saving, the art of cooking locally, city composting, the benefits of green roofs, beekeeping, and guest lecturers.


East New York Farms!

What they do: Our work includes two weekly farmers markets, a Youth Internship Program serving 35 children, a gardener assistance program, maintenance of three farms, a mini-grant program, and a Community Educator program that leads over 85 cooking demonstrations per year.

Their mission: The mission of the East New York Farms Project is to organize youth and adults to address food justice in our community by promoting local sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development. We are a project of United Community Centers, Inc.

Location: Brooklyn

Latest project: In 2015 we started the Pink Houses Community Farm in collaboration with residents of the NYCHA Pink Houses. All of the food that we grow on our 1/2-acre farm is given away.

Contact: eastnewyorkfarms.org, [email protected], 718-649-7979

Director: David Vigil (Project Director)

Date started: 1995

Sources of funding: Private and government grants, donations, program income.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $450,000.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system:  Community gardeners are the backbone of East New York Farms!. In addition to their work growing food, they serve multiple roles as vendors, community educators, youth interns, board members, and beekeepers.  All of this is in addition to their lives as parents, teachers, students, religious leaders, librarians, transit workers, grandparents, artists, and entrepreneurs.  We believe the resources to change our food system are right here in our community.


Edible Schoolyard NYC

What they do:  Edible Schoolyard NYC provides a seed to table education to students in NYC public schools, teaching children how to grow and prepare plant-based food. The garden and kitchen classrooms encourage connections between food, health, and the environment while teaching life skills and supporting academic learning through hands-on activities.

Their mission: Edible Schoolyard NYC partners with public schools to transform the hearts, minds, and eating habits of young New Yorkers through garden and kitchen classes integrated into the school day.

Location: New York City

Latest project: This school year, Edible Schoolyard NYC launched a pilot program, Network Schools, which brings our curriculum and teachers into four schools in neighborhoods identified by the NYC Department of Public Health as having high rates of diet-related diseases and large numbers of children from low-income families. These neighborhoods are South Bronx, Central/East Harlem, and Central Brooklyn. This program is a more scalable model than our original Demonstration School sites and is, therefore, allowing our programming to reach nearly 2,000 more students per year.

Contact: edibleschoolyardnyc.org, [email protected]

Director: Kate Brashares (Executive Director)

Date started: 2010

Sources of funding: 100 percent privately funded through foundation; corporate and individual support.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: 501(c)3 nonprofit, $2 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Edible Schoolyard NYC’s researched-based approach is designed so that students successfully cultivate the following life-changing proficiencies and behaviors:

  1. Grade-appropriate knowledge and skills to prepare, cook, and eat healthier plant-based foods
  2. An enhanced positive attitude toward and preference for healthier, plant-based foods
  3. A change in behavior and eating habits, leading to their preparing and consuming more plant-based foods in school and at home
  4. The desire to share and advocate for eating healthier and plant-based foods in the school environment and beyond

Based on their program evaluation, 97 percent of all of ESYNYC’s students try the foods sampled in kitchen and garden classes. Consistent exposure to new fruits and vegetables is key to getting children open to and excited about these foods. Consistent exposure to new fruits and vegetables can have a financial impact, however, as recently noted in the NY Times article “Why Poor Children Can’t be Picky Eaters.” Through Edible Schoolyard NYC’s consistent programming, students are given the opportunity to try new foods in an inspiring, fun way that gets them excited about tastings, effectively creating a positive attitude and preference for healthier foods. Through a study at ESYNYC’s Manhattan Demonstration School, they have found that 19 percent of our students took food from the salad bar in 2015, compared to less than 1 percent in 2013! This speaks volumes about their students’ familiarity with, and curiosity about, nutritious food options.


Farm School NYC

What they do: The Farm School NYC provides New York City residents with urban agriculture training to build self-reliant communities and promote positive local action surrounding food access; and social, economic, and racial justice issues. The organization uses a community-based approach to ensure that it is accessible to all New York City residents.

Their mission: Farm School NYC’s mission is to train NYC residents in urban agriculture to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action around food access and social, economic, and racial justice issues.

Location: New York City

Latest project: Farm School NYC is currently offering courses in Propagation, Growing Soil, and NYC as an Ecosystem this spring. The latter two classes are still open for registration. New students can apply at www.farmschoolnyc.org/apply.

Contact: farmschoolnyc.org, [email protected], 212-858.9821

Director: Onika Abraham

Date started: Farm School NYC began as a collective vision in 2007, but first opened for classes in January 2011.

Sources of funding: Largely tuition-funded

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Farm School NYC offers urban agriculture training through a certificate program as well as a wide range of individual courses. Courses are taught by experts in the field and focus on a wide range of topics from social justice issues to urban planting techniques, to grassroots community organizing. Through engaging, place-based education, Farm School classes cultivate future leaders in NYC’s food justice movement.


Food Bank for New York City

What they do: The Food Bank for New York City is the largest hunger-relief organization in New York, working to mitigate hunger in the five boroughs. Almost 20 percent of New Yorkers rely on the Food Bank for food and other resources. Its vast network of over 1,000 charities and schools throughout the city provide food for approximately 64 million free meals a year.

Their mission: Food Bank takes a strategic, multifaceted approach that provides meals and builds capacity in the neediest communities while raising awareness and engagement among all New Yorkers.

Location: New York City

Latest project: The Food Bank for NYC has a number of ongoing programs, which include direct services, food sourcing and distribution, nutrition and health education, income support and disaster relief. The next Food Bank event is the Can Do Awards Dinner on April 20th, which supports the organization’s efforts to end hunger throughout the five boroughs.

Contact: foodbanknyc.org, [email protected], 212-566-7855

Director: Margarette Purvis

Date started: 1983

Sources of funding: Private donations among other sources

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: nonprofit, $87.4 million, see more here>>

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Food Bank’s nutrition education programs and services empower more than 275,000 children, teens, and adults to sustain a healthy diet on a low budget.


Greenmarket Farmers’ Markets (GrowNYC)

What they do: Our network of farmers markets, Youthmarkets, Fresh Food Box pick-ups, and Greenmarket Co. ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food. We also work to provide business and technical assistance to established farmers and provide training and mentorship opportunities for those who are interested in starting new farm businesses.

Their mission: Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC, was founded in 1976 with a two-fold mission: to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown products directly to consumers, and to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.

Location: New York City

Latest project: Greenmarket Co. and Project Farmhouse

Contact: www.grownyc.org/greenmarket,[email protected]grownyc.org, 212-788-7476

Director: Michael Hurwitz

Date started: 1976

Sources of funding: Government, Private and Corporate Grants, Individual Donations and Farmer Fees

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: GrowNYC (our parent organization) is $12 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program is the largest network of outdoor farmers markets in the country with over 50 market locations in all five boroughs with 24 of these markets operating year-round. With support from the Farmers Market Federation of NY, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the City Council, GrowNYC has established a national model for operating EBT at farmers markets, greatly expanding food access in New York City. In 2015, we processed over $918,000 in SNAP sales at Greenmarkets along with $298,000 in Health Bucks in partnership with the New York City Department of Health.


Green Bronx Machine

What they do: The nonprofit organization in the South Bronx builds healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through school-based models that use urban agriculture to encourage student performance and promote healthy eating.

Their mission: Green Bronx Machine builds healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development. Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, our school-based model using urban agriculture aligned to key school performance indicators grows healthy students and healthy schools to transform communities that are fragmented and marginalized into neighborhoods that are inclusive and thriving.

Location: South Bronx

Latest project: The National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center at CS 55. We have inherited a 60 x 25-foot empty library in a 100+-year-old school building as our future home, and we dream of turning it into the National Health, Wellness & Learning Center in the South Bronx; an innovative and engaging wonderland where students and teachers can grow their way and work towards a brighter future.

Contact: gwww.greenbronxmachine.org[email protected]

Director: Stephen Ritz

Date started: Began loosely in 2009 and became an official nonprofit in 2011

Sources of funding: Volunteer-run, no salaries, and no employees

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, looking for fiscal support. 100 percent volunteer run.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Every day hundreds of kids show up to grow fruits and vegetables. Our students have presented nationally and have traveled from our local greenhouse to the White House, always ready, willing and able to export our grit, talent, and diversity. Along the way some of our critical benchmarks have included moving targeted daily attendance rates from 40 percent to 93 percent, 100 percent passing rates on New York State Examinations, and partnering towards 2,200 youth jobs.


Glynwood

What they do: The nonprofit agricultural organization in Cold Spring, New York promotes farming in the Hudson Valley and across the United States by farming, training farmers, promoting regional food, and encouraging community partner collaborations.

Their mission: Glynwood’s mission is to ensure the Hudson Valley is a region defined by food, where farming thrives.  We work to advance regenerative agriculture that benefits the natural environment, energizes local economies, enhances human health, and strengthens rural communities.

Location: Cold Springs, NY

Latest project: Glynwood will be hosting a number of farmer training workshops in 2016 that are free and open to the public, for residents and community members who are interested in honing their farm skills.

Contact: www.glynwood.org, [email protected],  845-265-3338

Director: Kathleen Frith

Date started: 1993

Sources of funding: Glynwood is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, funding comes through philanthropic support, including foundation grants, government grants, and individual contributions. A small portion of our income is earned from sales of farm products like meat, eggs and vegetables, as well as from site rentals.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $4.3 million, see more here>>

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Glynwood’s Farm practices regenerative methodologies, documents business strategies and provides a training ground for farm apprentices while providing fresh, locally-grown food to our community.


Harlem Grown

What they do: Harlem Grown operates two urban farms, two school gardens, and a greenhouse in Central Harlem. The organization provides educational programming both in local schools and on its farms to teach Harlem youth about urban farming, food justice, and sustainability. The food produced is distributed throughout the community and the organization aims to provide a source of nutritious food in a community where healthy food options are hard to come by.

Their mission: To inspire youth to live healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition.

Location: Harlem, New York City

Latest project: Harlem Grown is focused on scaling our efforts in 2016. At the core of this expansion is the opening of our 127th Street Farm (scheduled to open in late May). The farm will feature a two-story, vertical hydroponics greenhouse. This new farm has the capacity to triple our food production and double our reach to Harlem youth.

Contact: harlemgrown.org[email protected], 212-870-0113

Founder and Executive Director: Tony Hillery

Date started: 2011

Sources of funding: Our main source of funding is from Individuals and private foundations.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit 

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system:  Last year we produced and distributed 2,500 pounds of food, diverted 13,000 pounds of waste through our community composting program, and reached over 2,000 Harlem youth and their families through our programming. From our work on the farm, we learned very early on that if the kids grow it, they are 90 percent likely to try a new vegetable for the first time and 80 percent likely to enjoy it and want that vegetable again. Education is only a part of the battle, the hardest part is providing a sustainable and affordable source of healthy food for the community, and that’s what Harlem Grown is working to do in Central Harlem.


Just Food

What they do: Just Food provides training and resources that help community members launch projects including Community Supported Agriculture groups and farmers’ markets, educate their neighbors in fundamental cooking and urban farming skills, and advocate to make New York City neighborhoods healthier places to eat and live.

Their mission: Just Food helps to support, empower, and encourage community leaders to advocate for and increase access to nutritious, locally grown food, especially in underserved New York City neighborhoods.

Location: New York City

Latest project: Just Food recently hosted its 2016 conference, which is an incredible event that brings together food movement leaders including community organizers, CSA members, local food advocates, urban and rural farmers, and food entrepreneurs to discuss national food policy issues, approaches to urban agriculture, culinary and food preservation techniques, and strategies to mobilize communities in order to increase access to fresh, locally grown food.

Contact: www.justfood.org, [email protected],, 212-645-9880

Director: Jasmine Nielsen

Date started: 1995

Sources of funding: individuals, private foundation, city, state, and federal government, and corporate funding

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $1,103,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: For 20 years, Just Food has worked with community leaders to identify barriers to food access and to create innovative, community-driven solutions to those problems. Our community partners’ challenges and dreams have shaped the evolution of the organization.


New York City Community Garden Coalition

What they do: The coalition seeks to promote the preservation, creation, and empowerment of New York City gardens through education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing.

Their mission: Founded in 1996, New York City Community Garden Coalition’s mission is to promote the preservation, creation, and empowerment of community gardens through education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing.

Location: New York City

Latest project: Gardens Rising is a community-based environmental project to reduce stormwater flooding on the Lower East Side by building green infrastructure in our community gardens.

Contact: www.nyccgc.org, [email protected]

Director: Aziz Dehkan

Date started: 1996

Sources of funding: Grants

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $2.2 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: NYCCGC works with food, environmental and social justice organizations to create a just food delivery system.


School Food Focus

What they do:  School Food FOCUS is a national collaborative that leverages the procurement power of large school districts to make school meals across the country more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced.

Their mission: To ensure that all children have equal access to healthful and delicious school meals, providing them greater opportunity to achieve academic success and engage as vital members of the community.

Location: Headquartered in New York City

Latest project: School Food FOCUS works with school districts to coordinate purchasing power and put market pressure on food companies to provide healthier products for our nation’s school children. Our latest resource, FOCUS on the Plate is a direct result of this innovative approach. We are raising the standard of food on the lunch tray by working directly with suppliers to try out new products and reformulate others.

Contact: [email protected][email protected]

Director: Toni Liquori

Date started: 2008

Sources of funding: Foundations and individual donors.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: Our newest initiative, the California Ed-Med Collaborative, extends beyond school districts. We plan to demonstrate the power of institutional procurement across sectors by partnering districts with hospitals, and universities across California. In addition to increased procurement power, this initiative leverages another form of currency—the moral authority of public institutions dedicated to health and well-being of children and the populace.


Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

What they do: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is working to change the way America eats and farms by promoting sustainable agriculture and mindful food choices. Stone Barns Center is an 80-acre working farm in the Hudson River Valley, just 25 miles north of Manhattan. Most of the farm’s produce and meat are sold to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the award-winning onsite partner restaurant, and café, and through Stone Barns Center’s Farm Store. The rest is used in education programs, as visitors cook with and taste what’s grown here. Our four main program areas are:

  1. Experimenting with and improving agroecological farming practices.
  2. Training beginning farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques.
  3. Educating food citizens about the sources of healthy, seasonal, and sustainable food.
  4. Demonstrating and promoting a farm-driven cuisine—eating and cooking foods that reflect what farms need to grow to maintain ecosystem health.

Their mission: Stone Barns Center’s mission is to create a healthy and sustainable food system that benefits us all.

Location: Pocantico Hills, NY

Latest projectThe Mobile Kitchen Classroom is a semester-long course that aims to empower urban high school students to become food citizens by growing their knowledge of mindful food choices and teaching them to prepare fresh food. Its innovative curriculum focuses on making the connection between food and culture, food and nature, and food and power—crucial context for young adults to become empowered advocates for food system change.

Contactwww.stonebarnscenter.org[email protected], 914-366-6200

Director: Jill Isenbarger

Date started: 2004

Sources of funding: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we rely on generous donations and grants. More than half of our support comes from philanthropic gifts and grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations. The rest comes from the sale of farm products, program fees, and rental income.

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $8.2 million.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: More than 1 million people have visited Stone Barns Center since it opened to the public in 2004. The farm and education center are a laboratory for resilient, sustainable agriculture and for ideas that can create a new food future—one that is better for people, communities, and the environment. Farmers, chefs, and educators experiment with new breeds of drought- and disease-resistant vegetables and fruits; with better ways to raise pastured poultry; with tools that are designed just for small-scale, diversified farmers; and with delicious foods and ways of cooking that sustain a farm’s ecosystem health.


Street Vendor Project

What they do: The Street Vendor Project is a membership-based project of over 2,000 active vendors in New York City who are working together to create a vendors’ movement to protect the rights and responsibilities of street vendors.

Their mission: Our mission is to help all people who sell food and merchandise on the streets and sidewalks of New York as they endeavor to support their families, grow their small businesses, and contribute to our city.

Location: New York City

Latest project: The #LiftTheCaps project lifts the cap on vending permits that have been in place for 35 years. This will increase opportunity for vendors and help diversify street food in NYC.

Contact: www.streetvendor.org, [email protected], 646-602-5678

Director: Sean Basinski 

Date started: 2001

Sources of funding:  Private foundations, member dues, individual donors, events (such as the Vendy Awards and our annual Great Street Meet), and supportive City Council Members

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget:  Part of nonprofit Urban Justice Center. SVP’s budget is about $500,000 while the total UJC budget is about $12 million.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: The organization works to make sure that street vendors are represented and protected.


Sustainable Restaurant Corps

What they do: The Sustainable Restaurants Corps (SRC) is a nonprofit organization that helps restaurants in New York City sustain themselves and the environment. SRC works to help restaurants reduce utility costs, decrease food waste, source affordable, sustainable food, and disposable products, and cut indoor air pollution with green chemicals.

Their mission: To give New York restaurants the information they need to operate sustainably while meeting the rules and regulations they have to follow.

Location: New York City

Latest project: Our most recent development is that we have had interests in our approach, and we are hoping to export our model to other cities across the country based on future funding.

Contact:www.sustynyc.org, [email protected], 646-820-9489

Director: Christine Black

Date started: 2012

Sources of funding: Mostly run by volunteers. Looking for funding from foundations, city, state, and federal governments

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, fiscally sponsored, and running on a volunteer budget.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: We are interested in using data to highlight ways that any given restaurant can do to make an impact. For instance, we developed a spreadsheet with quantitative data on greenhouse emissions from restaurants. This data can help us make guidelines for how sustainable restaurants in every city should be evaluated.


Wellness in the Schools

What they do: Through meaningful public-private partnerships, Wellness in the Schools (WITS) empowers schools to provide healthy, scratch-cooked meals, active recess periods, and fitness and nutrition education. WITS actively engages students and school staff in a fundamental reimagination of the lunch and recess experience. Trained culinary graduates partner with cafeteria staff to feed kids real food and fitness coaches encourage schools to let kids play. In doing so, we shift the culture of a school.

Their mission: To inspire healthy eating and physical activity in public schools.

Location: New York City

Latest project: WITS is currently working on a national expansion plan through direct program implementation and the creation of toolkits to have a wider reach for our programming.

Contact: www.wellnessintheschools.org, [email protected], 212-724-2130

Director: Nancy Easton

Date started: 2005

Sources of funding: Corporate Donors, Foundation Grants, Individual Funding, City Government

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, $2,700,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system:  Chef Bill Telepan of the Michelin-starred restaurant, Telepan, joined after seeing the organization’s work transforming the cafeteria in his daughter’s school, PS 87.  Chef Telepan serves as Executive Chef of WITS, leading recipe development, facilitating partnerships with other restaurants and well-known chefs, and supporting training of our chefs. Through Chef Telepan’s leadership, WITS has been able to bridge the work we do with the culinary world.


The Youth Farm

What they do: The Youth Farm is a Brooklyn-based 1 acre farm that is a project of Green Guerillas, and that offers Wingate High School community and all New Yorkers with opportunities to increase food system knowledge and build organic growing skills to share with their communities, via programs such as a year-round elective course and paid summer jobs for teens, a 7-month intensive organic urban farming training program for adults, an on-site farmers market, and Community Supported Agriculture program for the community, and more.

Their mission: The Youth Farm is an education-focused production farm in Brooklyn that offers New Yorkers opportunities to increase their knowledge of the food system and build high-level organic growing skills to share with their communities. The Youth Farm grows organic food and flowers on one acre for the community and beyond, and offers advanced farm training and leadership opportunities for youth and adults.

Location: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Latest project: We are building 6 raised beds to model traditional school gardens.

Contact: www.theyouthfarm.org[email protected]

Director: We have three consultants, working through Green Guerillas, who manage different aspects of The Youth Farm.

Date started: Fall 2009

Sources of funding: Brooklyn Community Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Bay, and Paul

Profit or Nonprofit, if nonprofit, annual budget: Nonprofit, the Youth Farm is a fiscally sponsored by Green Guerillas, a not for profit dedicated to supporting NYC’s community gardens since 1973.

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively impact the food system: We are the largest in-ground school garden in NYC (1 acre!), and we work with both young people and adults.

 

At the time, this article was written the NYC Food Policy Center hoped also to recognize the Brooklyn Food Coalition for their important grassroots work to promote a just and sustainable food system through workshops and programs based on food empowerment, community exchanges, resilience building, and transformative practices. Upon reaching out to the organization, the NYC Food Policy Center learned that the coalition is in a start-up phase, charting a new course to building empowerment and self-reliance in communities, rather than impacting food systems directly.

 

Photo Credit: Nancy Borowick, Edible School Yard New York City

 

 

 

 

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