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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Institute for Food and Development Policy Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Agricultural Programs, Food, Interdisciplinary Research, International, International Human Rights

Mission: The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First shapes how people think by analyzing the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and developing solutions in partnership with movements working for social change.

Results: Promotion of the concepts of the basic human right to food and food sovereignty ("right of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems). Publicizing the success of people who are pursuing the dream of local, sustainable food systems.

Target demographics: Young people of all ages who support access for all people to quality, culturally appropriate food.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Buy Seeds and Pumps for Gao, Mali & funded habitat restoration to bring back bees

Geographic areas served: International, national, local

Programs: Food First Programs: A Three-pronged Approach In an effort to integrate our work for food sovereignty across rural-urban and local-global arenas, nationally and internationally, Food First divides its work into three Program Areas: 1. Building Local Agri-Foods Systems In the United States, the livelihood struggles of low-income, African-American, Native-American, Latino-American, Asian-American and immigrant communities are at the center of our programs for food justice and agricultural sustainability. Low-income people of color are mobilizing locally, forming national coalitions, drafting legislation, and reaching out internationally in their efforts to build healthy, equitable, food systems that contribute to the social and economic development of their communities. The main challenge to obtaining healthy affordable food in low-income communities is overcoming the ?industrial agri-foods divide? that separates sustainable producers from low-income consumers. Food First?s ?added value? in this effort resides in our ability to produce information, analysis and learning materials that help people improve and control their own food systems. Our research informs and documents these experiences, contributing directly to the national and global debates on food and development. In Oakland, California, we are working closely with local food activists to establish a Food Policy Council. As part of this partnership, we will carry out a Market Gap Study in West Oakland, a study of Food Policy Councils: Lessons Learned, and an Assessment of Bay Area Food System Assessments. Nationally, Food First is participating in efforts to build a national coalition of urban communities of color for food security. 2. Farmers Forging Food Sovereignty Dismantling the industrial agri-foods complex at the local food system level must be accompanied by the construction of alternatives that suit the needs of small-scale producers and low-income consumers, worldwide. Farmers Forging Food Sovereignty focuses on farmer alternatives to corporate control over production and consumption. The strategy is to help farmer movements for food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture document and share their alternatives among broad sectors of the rural and urban population to create political will and advance peasant-led food system alternatives. Our active projects in this program area include: The Campesino a Campesino GMO Education Project in Mexico and Central America, and our coalition work with Vía Campesina. 3. Democratizing Development: Land, Resources and Markets Social movements in the Global South are fighting for indigenous and peasant rights, land reform, sustainable agriculture, clean water, fair prices for agricultural goods, and freedom from foreign ?dumping? and GMO contamination. This program area focuses on the structural causes of hunger and poverty, and bridges the gap between transnational advocacy and local control over food system resources. Like other program areas it links critiques of the corporate-dominated food systems with farmer and consumer-led alternatives that ensure justice, equity and ecological sustainability. Our projects include the campaign for African Alternatives to the Gates-Rockefeller Alliance for a Green Revolution, and No full tanks with Empty Bellies: The Food and Fuel Sovereignty Campaign, and El Camino del Migrante: Immigrants and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty.

Community Stories

43 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN THE FRANCES MOORE LAPPÉ and Colleagues work since the 70' and 80' due their Books "Diet for a Small Planet" and "Food First!", from which in a some 'underground' way small nunber of copies circulated in my country CHILE, due the born of the "Vegetarian" and "Permaculture" movement in those years.

Also recently I have knower of a recently Book by Frances named "From an Economic Mind to an Ecological Mind" in which I also very interested for a work of "Green Publications and Media" that I am preparing and doing .... and for which - together - with some other "Green Authors - I am of You very Grateful - Keep Up with Your very Good Work! :- )

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I interned at Food First in the winter 2016. The staff was very welcoming and made me feel at home. I appreciated a lot the deep discussions we had, often during the lunch time all together. Actively joining the staff meetings and strategy workshop allowed me to have a better understanding of how a nonprofit works from the inside.
Interning at Food First during a transition period was challenging but allowed me to develop a lot of self-initiative. I was also conducting a personal thesis research and the possibility I had to discuss it with Eric was very precious and I'm thankful for it.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The very first thing to strike me about Food First was how open and welcoming the staff were. From the moment I arrived I was welcomed with a hug and instantly felt part of the Food First familial environment.
My work as a research and writing intern has been both thought-provoking and stimulating, exposing me to a range of topics and issues that I had not covered in my coursework. Tasks were varied and multiple - there will always be something to work on - allowing me to expand my skill set and incorporate new research methods.
Being a part of the weekly meetings and strategy workshop allowed me to not only feel a part of the working and organisational process, but also that my ideas and opinions were respected and taken on board.
Last but definitely not least, the casual conversations generated around the communal lunch table were both inspiring and enriching, and something I'll definitely take away from my time being there.
I highly recommend partaking in the internship program - the ability to participate in an independent research organisation has been both an honour and a privilege.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a research and writing intern in Spring 2015, after being introduced to Food First's books and publications in my coursework at Cal. Working with the team in the office was such an amazing moment in my life, always stimulating and interesting, beyond all of the learning through research and writing. I improved my writing skills more in this short amount of time than through any schooling, with dedicated and thorough feedback from Tanya. I learned about the behind-the-scene workings of a non-profit with radical goals and independent funding to carry those out. The camaraderie made it a joy to show up in the office, and even led to a farm visit trip and attending Gill Tract action days together. I gained new understandings of the food system, of analytical thinking, of change-making, and especially of what my part may be in the pending revolution! I continue to work on the Food Workers Food Justice newsletter today...as they say...interns never really leave!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a Research and Writing Intern at Food First during the fall of 2015 after graduating from a small environmental college in Upstate NY in May 2015. Food First is made up of absolutely incredible, genuine people who truly care about you, your goals/objectives, and making you feel like a valued member of the team. I was lucky enough to work on a Backgrounder with Food First's Director, Eric Holt-Gimenez, as well as become a crucial member of the planning committee for Food First's 40th Anniversary Gala. if you're willing to work hard, you will receive so much in return. Because of Food First, I have no doubt in my mind that a career dealing with food justice is what I'd like to pursue.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Interning at Food First was an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience. Not only did I feel like my research was valuable, but also it defined what I want to do. Furthermore, the people are wonderful and really smart and cooking and eating lunch together was always a blast. I am very grateful for this experience and would recommend it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Food First during the winter of 2013 and I continue to be incredibly grateful for the experience. The Food First staff is intelligent, inspiring and welcoming. The work is radical and important. My time with Food First set the tone of and direction for the academic and professional path that I pursue today.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned for Food First my last semester of college. It is, to this day, my absolute favorite and most influential job/ internship I have ever had- and trust me I have had a lot of jobs and internships. At Food First they got to know me as an individual and worked with me to develop research and work that reflected my areas of expertise. With that focus I was able to write a body of research that made an impact on the areas of food justice and sovereignty that meant a lot to me- specifically the efficacy of GMO foods.
If I still lived in the East Bay I would continue to volunteer for them. The staff really, honestly, care about their interns and each other. It is an incredibly positive and inspiring environment.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Food First and the Oakland Food Policy Council. I had a great time learning about the food system in the Bay Area. Everyone at the organization is extremely friendly and helpful!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Interning with Food First was an amazing experience. You are surrounded by brilliant, passionate people that are so dedicated to food and social justice, it's inspiring. The environment is very supportive, collaborative and family-like. It's a great opportunity for someone who is self-starting, and motivated. There is lots of flexibility within the intern role- if you have an area you'd like to work on, if you'd like to work on an existing project, etc. The role can very dynamic.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Food First does great work, which is what attracted me to apply to be an intern. Working on several types of tasks allowed me at 24 years old to hone in on what I was most interested. Attending staff meetings I was able to get a sense of how a small nonprofit works. I was drawn to tabling events, but worked alongside people doing grantwriting, others who spend their time working on publishing articles that ultimately helped them get into Graduate School, and even sprucing up the garden out front so we could practice what we preach. The staff is approachable and imbued with a determination to help create a world without hunger. I highly recommend an internship at Food First! I will never look at Food System issues the same way after my time at Food First.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered and worked with a number of non-profits, however Food First was by far the only non-profit which left me with a feeling of complete admiration and respect. They stick by their beliefs and pore their heart and sole into the work they do. I am so grateful for all the inspirational people I met at Food First.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Food First is not only a fantastic organization with amazing, dedicated people, it's an invaluable asset to the food justice movement. It is a great place if you want a meaningful internship that keeps you engaged, learning, and active in the food justice movement. The work they produce is insightful, well researched, and meaningful. On all fronts, this is a wonderful organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a research intern and editor with Food First for the past year, and my experience has been extremely influential on my future academic and professional goals. The organization holds its research to rigorously high standards, which makes it an exciting site of cutting-edge inquiry. It is also a high-profile meeting space for renowned scholars from all around the world who are studying food politics. I look forward to staying in close contact with Food First in the future, even after my formal internship has ended.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time as an intern at Food First was inspiring and informative in the same time. I did not only meet a lot of people sharing my values on life, food, agriculture and social interactions but I also got insights in politics and social change which I can use for my Master research back in Europe. As a European student interested in the field of food sovereignty it was a good experience to get connected to people from the US and elsewhere working on the same things and to actually realize that we can create ideas and get active beyond borders.
During my internship I researched on the phenomena of land grabbing and thus contributed to the update of one of the Food First publications. Although this work was pretty self-dependent and required to be organized and self-disciplined, I loved to spend my time on using and extending my skills of academic research and writing in exactly the field that I am passionate about. I have to say that it was my first internship in which I was not supposed to do adminsitrative work that the employees don't want to do - I really appreciated that.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My internship at Food First provided the occasion to pursue academic passions and career goals. I was connected to the right people and I was doing meaningful work. Any individual in the field should try to get involved or at the very least be familiar with their purposeful work.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My internship with Food First truly opened my eyes to the many endemic problems of the global food system. I was given the opportunity to improve my research, writing, and language skills, and was even able to publish a few articles. The office is very cozy and home made lunches in the garden each day gave me a great opportunity to get to know the staff and other interns. You must be very independent an self-sufficient, because they have high expectations and do not coddle you, but it was a wonderful experience that I am very grateful for.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My internship at Food First has opened my eyes on many subjects and helped me develop a more critical point of view. I met and worked with inspiring people and I hope to contribute again in the future.

1 Brock H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Food First provides young people like me a space to think radically, practice academic and hands-on research, and connect to food movements internationally as well as within the US and the San Francisco Bay Area. Unlike many internships, where you are stuck doing the work your supervisors don't want to, Executive Director Eric Holt-Gimenez and Research Coordinator Tanya Kerssen encourage interns to do research that is meaningful to them as well as collaborate on any current Food First research projects. This mix of independent and collaborative work is fertile ground for critically-minded students and young people. I was able to work on a diverse set of projects during my time at Food First. I did qualitative research assessing the state of the Food Justice movement in the Bay Area, wrote about the politics of Food Aid and land grabs in the Americas, interviewed locals in the food movement and wrote news articles, and conducted literature research about quinoa production and trade in Bolivia. My best advice to you: come prepared to pursue your own research under the helpful tutelage of Eric and Tanya, as well as jump in and collaborate on Food First research projects. And become friends with Marilyn; she's the backbone of the whole organization.

-- Brock Hicks, Research Intern

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had come across Food First publications a number of times during my undergraduate studies and masters. I eventually decided to carry out an internship at Food First based off of all the positive acknowledgment of its work from respected professors and colleagues of mine, their literature I had read, and their collaboration with other organizations such as Via Campecina.
I greatly value the time I spent with Food First. While I was working with them it became clear how important their close collaboration with people’s organizations and peasant groups is, both locally and globally. This collaboration allows for Food First to accurately publicize information from its roots, rather than the typical top-down approach.
My experience with them as an intern allowed me to gain a much better understanding of the inner workings of a non-profit. Food First is a creative and encouraging environment for one to gain useful skills and to constructively work towards their ideals and aspirations.