Organizations Committed to Food Advocacy and Changing Food Policy

by Charles Platkin, PhD

There are many organizations working to help make a better, more interesting food system. The following are committed to helping change our food system for the better.

Center for Food Safety
·      What they do: CFS is a consumer and environmental advocacy group whose goal is to protect human health and the environment through the promotion of organic, safe, and sustainable methods of food production. Operating at both the grassroots and federal level, CFS educates the public about organic food and actively battles harmful food legislation, compelling the government to fulfill its obligation to protect consumers.
·      Their mission: “Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a national non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS also educates consumers concerning the definition of organic food and products. CFS uses legal actions, groundbreaking scientific and policy reports, books and other educational materials, market pressure and grass roots campaigns through our True Food Network. CFS’s successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.”
·      Latest project/campaign: CFS just petitioned the Department of Justice and elected officials to block several pending mergers that would further consolidate the market for seeds and agricultural chemicals. “The pending mergers between Dow-DuPont, Syngenta-ChemChina and Bayer-Monsanto.” The continuing consolidation of seed and pesticide companies essentially creates a monopoly of toxicity in control of the world’s seed market and food supply. These agrichemical giants threaten the availability and genetic diversity of seeds that are critical to a sustainable food system and to our ability to respond to the impacts of climate change,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety.
·      Location: US; headquarters in Washington, DC.
·      Email and phone:, 202-547-9359 (media inquiries);, 202-547-9359 (general inquiries)
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @centerforfoodsafety, Twitter: @CFSTrueFood
·      Director: Andrew Kimbrell
·      Date started: 1997
·      Major funding: N/A
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit.
·      Annual budget: $2,521,780 (990 form for 2011).
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: CFS actively battles harmful legislation through a combination of grassroots pressure, lobbying, and making use of the courts. Their victories range from stopping the USDA from accepting genetic engineering as an organic practice to forcing the FDA to withdraw the majority of arsenic-based animal drugs from use. Their drafts for food legislation have also been implemented in several states. Besides simply educating the public on issues of food policy, CFS plays an active role in shaping the legal landscape of food production in the United States.

ChangeLab Solutions
·      What they do: ChangeLab Solutions provides community-based solutions for America’s most common and preventable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Their solutions promote the common good by making healthier choices easier for everyone.
·      Their mission: “ChangeLab Solutions creates innovative laws and policies to ensure everyday health for all, whether that’s providing access to affordable, healthy food and beverages, creating safe opportunities for physical activity, or ensuring the freedom to enjoy smoke-free air and clean water. Our solutions address all aspects of a just, vital and thriving community, like food, housing, childcare, schools, transportation, public safety, jobs, and the environment.”
·      Latest project/campaign: In many places, people don’t have access to fruits and vegetables, but they can find tobacco, unhealthy foods, and alcohol all too easily. Not surprisingly, these communities often struggle with high rates of chronic and deadly disease. Public health staff in the areas of tobacco control, nutrition, and excessive alcohol use prevention rarely work together as they improve stores and change health outcomes. But what if they joined forces? ChangeLab Solutions’ new set of tools and their healthy retail library can help government agencies collaborate with community members, store owners, and one another to create a retail environment where healthy choices are a priority.
·      Location: US, headquarters in Oakland, CA
·      Email and phone:,
·      510-302-3380
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @ChangeLabSolutions, Twitter: @ChangeLabWorks
·      Director: Marice Ashe
·      Date started: 1997
·      Major funding: Government agencies, foundations, academic institutions, community based organizations and private entities.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget: $8.3 million
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: ChangeLab Solutions helps communities around the nation build access to healthy, affordable, fresh food. Their tools are designed to help community leaders bringing about public health changes in their neighborhoods, attract grocery stores, improve the corner store environment, make restaurants healthier, build community gardens, create farmers markets, and more! ChangeLab offers sample contracts, resolutions and advice for municipalities.

Food Policy Action
·      Who they are: Created by a team of food policy leaders, Food Policy Action informs the average citizen of current food policy legislation being considered in Washington, as well as how each member in the House and Senate is voting. This gives consumers the knowledge they need to determine which legislators they should support.
·      Their mission: “FPA’s mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, decrease the amount of wasted food, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. Food Policy Action promotes positive policies through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.”
·      Location: US; headquarters in Washington, DC.
·      Latest project/campaign: Food Policy Action Education Fund’s Plate of the Union Campaign
·      Email and phone: ,, (202) 997-3266
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @FoodPolicyAction, Twitter: @FPAction, Instagram: @foodpolicyaction
·      Director: Claire Benjamin DiMattina
·      Date started: 2012
·      Major funding: Individual donations and grants.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget: N/A
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: By providing the latest food policy information in an easy to comprehend format and raising the political profile of food in America, we give citizens the information they need so that they can support elected officials and good food policy to fix our nation’s food system and improve public health.

Food Research & Action Center
·      Who they are: The Food Research & Action Center works with a network of nonprofits, public agencies, corporations, and labor organizations at the local, state, and national level to address hunger in America. FRAC acts simultaneously as a research center, policy watchdog, and food advocate in order to compel the implementation of good food policy, in addition to providing on-the-ground support to food banks and community centers.
·      Their mission: The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. FRAC works with hundreds of national, state and local nonprofit organizations, public agencies, corporations and labor organizations to address hunger, food insecurity, and their root cause, poverty.
·      Location: USA; headquarters in Washington, DC.
·      Latest project/campaign: With the 2016 elections fast approaching, FRAC has created a one-stop-shop for anti-hunger advocates to get the facts and tools they need to ensure every candidate knows about the extent of hunger in America and the solutions that exist to solve it.
·      Email and phone:, cbsutton, 202-986-2200
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @foodresearchandactioncenter, Twitter: @fractweets, Instagram: @fracgram, Linkedin: Food Research and Action Center
·      Director: James D. Weill
·      Date started: 1970
·      Major funding: FRAC is supported by several foundations and corporations
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget: N/A
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Since its establishment in 1970, FRAC has been advocating to protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs.

Food & Water Watch

·      Who they are: Food &Water Watch seeks to take power out of the hands of harmful food and energy corporations and place it back into the hands of the people. F&WW mobilizes and educates citizens through grassroots and educational campaigns in hopes of achieving political change to create a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

·      Their mission: “Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.”
·      Location: US; headquarters in Washington, DC, with 16 field offices across the country.
·      Latest project/campaign: Food & Water Watch is currently trying to stop trade deals that would bring in more unsafe food imports, and is trying to weaken the monopoly stranglehold a few large corporations have over our food system.
·      Email and phone:, 202-683-2500
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @FoodandWaterWatch, Twitter: @foodandwater, Instagram: @foodandwaterwatch
·      Director: Wenonah Hauter
·      Date started: 2005
·      Major funding: Food & Water Watch is funded through its membership, as well as individual and foundation donations. Food & Water Watch does not accept any corporate or government funding.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget: $14,456,012 (2014)
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Food & Water Watch seeks to transform the food system by getting the public involved in demanding food policies that put people over corporate profits.

Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC)
·      What they do: ROC aims to improve the wages and working conditions of restaurant employees. Through campaigns to educate the public, partnerships with restaurants, workshops to uplift low-income restaurant workers, and by conducting research, ROC promotes the “high road” to profitability, in which both employers and employees benefit equally.
·      Their mission: “The mission of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce. We are 18,000 restaurant workers, 200 high-road employers, thousands of engaged consumers united for raising restaurant industry standards.”
·      Latest project/campaign: One Fair Wage is a national effort to eliminate the separate, lower wage for tipped workers, two-thirds of whom are women. Through our One Fair Wage campaign, we will advance campaigns across the country to pass legislation in cities and states that will require the restaurant industry to pay all its employees at least the regular minimum wage. Learn more at
·      Location: US, headquarters in New York City.
·      Email and phone:, 215-870-7076 (press inquiries); 212 -343-1771 (general inquiries)
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @rocunited, Twitter: @rocunited
·      Director: Saru Jayaraman and Fekkak Mamdouh
·      Date started: 2008 (ROC United), 2002 (ROC-NY)
·      Major funding: ROC United is supported by local and national foundations as well as contributions from restaurant workers, employers, and consumers across the country.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit.
·      Annual budget: $6,000,000
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: ROC’s programs not only support and advocate for low-wage workers. They also partner with restaurateurs through RAISE and consumers through Diners United to promote profitability through sustainable, fair business models and policy change.

Photo credit: Food & Water Watch

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