Shifting the food environment on a larger scale is more work than changing the spaces you control, but immensely rewarding when you do succeed. Community activism not your favorite past time? Take a few smaller, independent actions. Your neighborhood, town, or county does care what its residents think. Probably.
Write some e-mails or letters about the importance of access to healthy food. Send them to the local newspaper, your city council member, your mayor, or neighborhood groups. Send them to the state or province, too. Praise, requests, and reminders that you vote are always helpful. Generally, it’s a good idea to keep your letter tightly focused. If you want to talk about GMO regulation, write a separate letter so it gets filed away appropriately. Alternatively, make a few phone calls.
Talk to your neighbors. You don’t have to host a coffe hour (you could), but bring it up whenever you can. If it takes 11+ times for a child to try a new food, how many times does it take for an adult to adopt an idea?
Contact local stores amd restaurants. Ask you corner store to carry some healthy foods, and then go in and buy it occasionally. Ask the grocery store to label (or carry) healthier ______. Maybe your topic is whole grain pasta. Maybe you want to see unsweetened yogurt. Or bulk oatmeal. Pick something you both care about and that you would then buy.
Cook and share. Honestly, good food appeals to most people who are served it with care. Not all but some of what you make will change someone’s life.
Join a neighborhood group, and offer to work on food access issues. Maybe you help conduct a community food assessment, or just talk to local restaurants about offering healthier foods (or getting rid of the item most likely to kill their customers). Host a movie night, start a book club, or create campaign materials for others to contact representatives/media/stores.
Volunteer with an organization doing work around food access. Opportunities range from helping a school garden, working at a food bank, teaching nutrition/cooking classes, gleaning from fields, or organizing advocacy efforts. You could donate produce from your garden to a food bank, or coordinate donations from a farm or CSA to a soup kitchen or food pantry.
Significant time commitments:
Get appointed or elected. It doesn’t need to be state office– even joining the local school’s wellness committee or the board of a local hospital, college, or non-profit is a major dedication to your community. Work to be sure that your organization of choice includes healthy food access in their work. Food is everywhere these days, so take at look at the organizations you already work with. Maybe you can get the museum to offer more diabetic-friendly meals, or your college to serve more vegetables.
Organize skills workshops or seminars. Basically, connect with an organization and/or space and find a few like-minded friends who are willing to share their knowledge. Maybe even coerce a social-media inclined friend to do some marketing for you. Resources and teaching guides are often available for free (or low cost) online, depending on your topic, or you can create your own as you go.
Blog or write often. Can you write a column for the local rag? A popular blog? I’m sure you can think of something.
Let us know what you are doing now, what you plan to do, or just share some brainstorming.