Edible Communities Celebrates Food Heroes, in partnership with Niman Ranch

Food heroes are all around us, impacting lives beyond the plate. We’re seeing farmers, chefs, grocery store clerks, butchers, truckers and other essential workers in the food chain going above and beyond to help feed their local communities.

Edible Communities is proud to partner with natural meats pioneer Niman Ranch to help celebrate these too often-underappreciated heroes.

Local Food Heroes Share Their Stories

From the farm fields to grocery store aisles, we are seeing unexpected heroes step up to bring wholesome meals to their neighbors in need. These heroes are making personal sacrifices, putting themselves on the frontlines to help their neighbors.

Food heroes are everywhere. Do you know one? Nominate them to be featured here!

Bay Area “Start-Ups” Frontline Foods and Meals of Gratitude are Models for Local Restaurants and Healthcare Workers to Know the Power of Local Food

Silicon Valley, CA——Out of the ashes of this moment in our nation is rising an unstoppable connection between healthcare workers and resilient local food sources. FF and Meals of Gratitude are shining examples. With their commitment to bring healthy, locally sourced food to healthcare workers, they are also bolstering the local economy by enabling independently owned local restaurants and producers to stay in business and keep their staff employed. For all of its national infrastructure multiplying by the minute, the seeds FF and WCK plant are truly homegrown.

Chef Chris Shepherd, co-founder of the Southern Smoke Foundation

Southern Smoke Foundation Gears Up for High-Level Giving for Food and Beverage Workers

Houston, TX——Southern Smoke has a reputation for giving and no intent to stop. Since COVID-19 hit, SSF has activated its Emergency Relief Fund, started in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, to distribute more than $1.8 million to nearly 1,000 people, and are still reviewing applications from the more than 25,000 received. But that’s not all. Embracing not just the care of the city of Houston but of the big state of Texas, Southern Smoke recently announced a partnership with Mental Health of America of Greater Houston and the University of Houston to provide free mental healthcare to any food and beverage worker and their children in Texas.

Willy Elliot-McCrea, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank in Santa Cruz County, with the National Guard

In Santa Cruz County, Second Harvest Food Bank Brings in the National Guard to Feed the Hungry

Santa Cruz, CA——There are over 200 food banks in the country and they feed over 45 million people with food every year. And that was before COVID-19. With the crisis, demand for food has shot through the roof at all food banks across the country. The Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County has the distinction of being the first food bank of California and the second oldest in the nation—and it is led by CEO Willy Elliot-McCrea. Faced with the inability to use regular volunteers to meet the needs of his community, Elliot-McCrea brought in the National Guard.

Shai Tzabari, co-owner of Olive My Pickles, wears "Make Pickles Not War" t-shirt.

Local Fermentation Business Innovating Ways To Serve The Community Through COVID Shutdown

Jacksonville, FL——Small-scale, sustainable food artisans and producers have the advantage of being able to pivot in a time of crisis. When stay-at-home orders halted operations for local farmers markets in Northeast Florida, Charlotte and Shai Tzabari, owners of Olive My Pickle in Jacksonville, Florida, established the 904 Food Hub, a socially-distanced open air market. Proving a testament to how diversified and abundant a local food community can become when times get tough, for ten weeks, the food hub was a central location to pick up all of Olive My Pickle products, along with local food products from other artisans, vendors, and producers.

Share a food hero story from your community

Food heroes are everywhere. Do you know one? Nominate them to be featured here! To celebrate these heroes and helpers, for every nomination, Niman Ranch will donate a serving of their all-natural meat to help with COVID-19 relief.

Let's stay in touch!

Sign up to receive recipes, coupons, and updates from Niman Ranch’s network of independent family farms. For every new subscriber, Niman Ranch will donate $1 to their Next Generation Foundation to help young farmers.

Learn more about our partners, Niman Ranch at