Food Security and Organizations That Are Making a Difference

Food is a fundamental human need that supports our physical, mental and emotional health and is essential to our survival. It’s also a joy and a pleasure, with social aspects that connect us to our community and culture. Unfortunately, many people — whether in our own neighbourhoods or halfway around the world — don’t know where their next meal is coming from, can’t afford the basics at the grocery store, and have to make gut-wrenching choices between buying food and paying pressing bills. It’s hard to focus on anything when you are hungry and grappling with food insecurity.

What Is Food Insecurity?

Simply put, food insecurity is not being able to buy enough food to meet your nutritional needs. It is directly linked to income.

Who Does It Affect?

Low-income communities, seniors, single parents (especially mothers) and children. Food insecurity is also a racial issue. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, as well as immigrants, are much more likely to be food insecure.

Food Insecurity in Canada

Food Insecurity in the United States

Due to COVID 19, food insecurity rates are on the rise and experts predict they will continue to worsen.

What Are Food Deserts?

Food deserts are places with little to no access to affordable, fresh and nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, and residents are forced to travel long distances to buy food (often without a car).

Health Impacts of Food Insecurity

Living with food insecurity can have a multitude of negative health impacts. When we don’t get enough to eat, it’s more challenging to meet our basic nutritional needs and building resilience is next to impossible.

Health Impacts on Children

Food insecurity and hunger in children can lead to:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Delayed or reduced learning
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Increased risk of asthma
  • Childhood obesity
  • Higher risk of chronic diseases later in life, like heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and more

Health Impacts on Adults

Food insecurity and hunger in adults can lead to:

  • Higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
  • Obesity
  • A greater possibility of being diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions
  • Depression, anxiety, mood disorders or suicidal thoughts
  • Challenges managing (and addressing) health problems
  • For mothers, an increased risk of postpartum depression

Food Insecurity: Organizations That Are Making a Difference

There isn’t one solution to food insecurity, but many. It requires a multi-pronged approach that includes government policy, better housing, employment opportunities, social assistance, training and education, affordable fresh food markets, and more.

There are many non-profits and charities that are working to address food insecurity — and increase food sovereignty — all over the world. We’re highlighting a number of them in Canada, the US, and abroad that we have become familiar with.


From Scratch Cooking - Food insecurity

About: Thrive is an organization the Academy of Culinary Nutrition has been partnered with since 2014 with our annual From Scratch Cooking fundraising cookbook. Thrive seeks to address extreme poverty by helping African communities move from reliance on food aid to self-sufficiency – even into surplus.

Food security non-profit
About: SÜPRMARKT is a low-cost grocery store providing affordable organic produce to low-income citizens and food deserts in South Los Angeles. The community @supr.mrkt serves has 1.3 million residents and only 60 grocery stores – and very few of those stores have nutritious options that support good health.
Learn More:

Sundance Harvest

Food Security

About: This Toronto-based urban farm works to eliminate oppression and racism in the food system by providing resources and knowledge to help others, especially young people, grow their own food and achieve food sovereignty. Cheyenne, Sundance Harvest’s Founder, is looking to move beyond city limits and purchase her own land for a justice-based rural farm.

Afri-Can Food Basket

Food insecurity

About: For 25 years, Afri-Can Food Basket has fought for food justice, food access, and enhancing the nutrition, health and employment of Toronto’s African, Caribbean, and Black community. Since COVID isolation began, they have donated hundreds of baskets of produce to families who need it.

Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre

food insecurity

About: Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre uses food, tradition and community to build food sovereignty in Iqaluit and increase access to healthy food. They serve hot meals daily, provide food education, teach cooking classes for children, and advocate for change at the government level.
Learn More:

Indigenous Food Lab

Food security organizations

About: Part restaurant, education and training center, the Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis aims to help Indigenous people reclaim their cultural food traditions.

Soul Fire Farm

injustice in our food system

About: This community farm in Petersburg, New York, works to end racism and injustice in our food system. They use Afro-Indigenous techniques to rejuvenate the land they work with, teach Black, Indigenous and People of Colour how to farm, offer anti-racism training, and now have online learning options. In the wake of COVID, they also have volunteers building raised beds in local communities so food insecure households can grow their own food.

The Okra Project
Food insecurity
About: This non-profit provides healthy, home-cooked meals to the Black Trans community. They also offer resources like community outings to plays, teach basic cooking skills, and an International Grocery Fund.

Urban Growers Collective

Food insecurity

About: Based in Chicago’s South Side, Urban Growers Collective works to address racism in the food system and support local communities so they can have access to healthy food, education and employment opportunities. They have a variety of urban farms, train and educate young people on farming, and operate a mobile market that brings nutritious, affordable food straight to Chicago communities.

Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC)

land trust - food sovereignty

About: White landowners control nearly 100% of farmland in the Northeastern United States. NEFOC strives to achieve food sovereignty by securing land for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour so they can farm sustainably and honour their ancestor’s farming traditions. They also have a reparations map on their website so donors can directly support BIPOC.

Learn More:

What Can You Do?

  • Donate to organizations in your community. The food insecurity groups mentioned above are just a small portion of what is happening around North America. Food security is grassroots, local, and community-based. Do some research into organizations in your neighbourhood, city, or province/state and donate funds.
  • Volunteer your time. Volunteer opportunities have changed due to COVID, but there are many ways you can still give back to organizations that work to address food security. Perhaps you can pack produce boxes, make food deliveries, or help garden while safely physically distancing. If you have technical skills, social media expertise, marketing or canvassing experience, offer them up!
  • Organize a food drive. Collect healthy, nutritious foods for organizations in your community. If you choose this route, check with the selected charity first to ensure you are collecting what they truly need.
  • Write to your representatives. Get in touch with your local government representatives to tell them that food security is important to you and ask them to take action.
  • Lobby for better wages. Food insecurity is inextricably linked to poverty. Many people who are food insecure are also working – they’re just not earning enough to cover all of their expenses due to low wages and a high cost of living. Explore living wage campaigns in your area, or contact your government representatives.

Intro to Food Security and Orgs That Are Making A Difference