We like to think of gifts for good causes as magnificent three (or more!)-way presents. When a donation is made, the benefits stretch from the giver to the honoree to the organization receiving the support and all the individuals and communities it helps. For food lovers, it's only fitting to support charities and groups involved in work like farming, gardening, food justice and security. Here are some to consider…
1 Food banks: In recent years the combination of unemployment, rising food prices, and declining donations from food companies has placed food banks under much strain. To support a local food bank, search the listings at Feeding America and Food Pantries, or give directly to Feeding America, which supports a nationwide network of food banks.
2 Community gardens: Help advance community gardening and greening through the American Community Gardening Association, or search their database to find a local community garden in the US or Canada. Many gardens could use gifts of money, supplies, or time.
3 American Farmland Trust: Donations to the American Farmland Trust help fund the organization's work in education and legislation supporting local foods, farmers' markets, and farmland protection across the nation.
4 Blessings in a Backpack: Children in the Federal Free and Reduced Meal Program are fed at school but may have little to no food on the weekend. This program steps in to provide backpacks full of nutritious food that they can take home on Fridays.
5 The Edible Schoolyard Project: Founded by chef Alice Waters, the Edible Schoolyard Project works to transform the quality of school food through garden, kitchen, and lunch programs across the nation.
6 International Rescue Committee: The IRC responds to humanitarian crises around the world. Through their holiday Rescue Gifts program, you can give symbolic presents like emergency food for 50 malnourished children, a community garden for refugees resettled in the US, a goat or flock of chickens for a disaster-stricken family, or clean water for 200 people.
7 Non-GMO Project: This organization works to ensure the availability of non-GMO products through third-party verification, education, and the development of standards for farmers and food processors to avoid genetically modified organisms.
8 Rodale Institute: Rodale has pioneered organic farming through independent research and outreach to consumers, gardeners, and farmers. A membership in the organization could make a nice gift for the avid organic gardener.
9 Roots of Peace: Working in war-torn countries like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Roots of Peace aims to "transform the scars of conflict into the roots of peace" by unearthing dangerous landmines and rehabilitating the land through farming.
10 Seed Savers Exchange: More than just an heirloom seed catalog, Seed Savers Exchange helps preserve and document North America's diverse and endangered plant heritage. You can support them through a membership or donation.
Be sure to check out our 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 gift guides for more good causes.
Do you have any others to recommend?
2011 Kitchen Gift Guides
• Kitchen Gift Guide For Beer Lovers
• Gift Guide for Wine-Lovers: Deeply Enjoyable Wine Books
(Images: Flickr member D Sharon Pruitt licensed under Creative Commons; American Community Gardening Association; American Farmland Trust; Blessings in a Backpack; Edible Schoolyard; International Rescue Committee; Non-GMO Project; Rodale Institute; Roots of Peace; Seed Savers Exchange)