While food stands, urban farms and nutrition education are effective in reducing food deserts, the People’s Grocery of West Oakland, California—an organization dedicated to improving the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system—has another method: It focuses on empowering citizens to lead and demand change in communities.

“We have a leadership development program called the Growing Justice Institute,” said Nikki Henderson, executive director, in an interview with Organic Connections. “We were trying to figure out how to be more efficient; our programs had become very labor intensive and we needed to figure out a way to get more people to have access to our food and information.”

In addition to fostering leadership, People’s Grocery hosts events where participants can get a free, healthy meal featuring raw food and meat substitutes like tofu. This event—which has had up to 300 people attend—primes the community to be more receptive to healthy living.

Read more in Organic Connections.