10 Food-Related Charities

With so much emphasis on buying gifts during the holidays, it’s easy to be sucked into the consumer machine. We’ve put together a list of food-centric charities so you can help someone less fortunate than your spoiled little nephew (as well as avoid another trip to the mall). Some of the charities will notify giftees of your donation with a card; for those that don’t, you can print out the donation verification and tuck it into your own personal note.

1. Save the Seeds. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is an international organization dedicated to preserving the world’s food security. Donations go to the long-term maintenance of seed banks (including the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a.k.a. the Doomsday Vault) and grants for gathering accurate information on existing seed collections.

2. Give a Pig. Mercy Kits from Mercy Corps make charitable giving a little more personal. These donation packages let you give a pig, a goat, a beehive, or farming supplies to those in need worldwide. The organization has worked with people in 106 nations and contributed $1.5 billion in assistance since 1979. Heifer International offers a similar program.

3. Support Pediatric Cancer Research. Order some holiday cookies from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and 75 percent of the purchase price will go directly toward funding for pediatric cancer research. Try the Box of Hope, which contains a dozen each of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and lemon sugar cookies.

4. Teach a Kid to Plant. The National Gardening Association’s Adopt a School Garden Program helps schools plan, build, and maintain a garden, as well as create a curriculum around it. Larger donations can be directed toward the school of your choice, while moderate donations are used to promote the program and develop educational tools for teachers.

5. Save Family Farms. Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund helps farmers recover from weather-related disasters. The organization provides emergency funding, support hotlines, and legal and financial counseling to help farmers avoid foreclosure and stay on their land after a natural disaster. Currently, it is assisting farmers in the Midwest who were affected by the flooding that occurred earlier this year.

6. Keep the Rain Forest Lush. Sustainable Harvest International, an 11-year-old nonprofit organization, teaches Central American farmers sustainable ways to work their land without harming rain forests. Donations can be made toward everything from providing a community grain silo to funding village school programs that plant vegetables and trees.

7. Help End Hunger. Freedom from Hunger provides women with microcredit loans and health education. Its Credit with Education program helps impoverished women purchase higher-quality food and have more control over their families’ health.

8. Feed the Elderly. The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) delivers nutritious food to elderly, homebound, and disabled people. Donate directly to MOWAA, or use its directory to find a local chapter.

9. Help the Homeless. All of the proceeds from sales of the HELP Comfort Foods line of chocolates (we like the salty turtles) go directly to HELP USA, which aims to assist homeless people in becoming self-sufficient. It does this by providing housing, job training and placement, childcare, and other services to those in need.

10. Know Your Fish. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has spearheaded ocean conservation measures for the past 23 years with innovative projects like Seafood Watch. It offers pocket and cell phone guides to choosing sustainable seafood, and advises purveyors on environmentally responsible seafood to carry.

Roxanne Webber is an associate editor at CHOW.

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