Photo credit: Kristin Chalmers

Elizabeth Wills-O'Gilvie

Springfield, Massachusetts

After returning to her hometown of Springfield, MA, with her husband and newly adopted son in 2009, Elizabeth O’Gilvie found her voice as a passionate and highly effective advocate for access to healthy food in the community—especially for children.

Working with the Springfield Food Policy Council, O’Gilvie helped lead the campaign to build the new $21 million Springfield Culinary and Nutrition Center, which prepares healthy meals from scratch each day featuring locally grown food for district schoolchildren. She also led efforts to bring free breakfast into Springfield Public Schools classrooms as well as helping the district qualify for the federal free lunch program to counter pervasive poverty and hunger.

O’Gilvie also is chair of the board for Gardening the Community, a local nonprofit organization that teaches children to grow their own nutritious food. She championed efforts to purchase land in the community to build a greenhouse, so volunteers can grow food year-round, and the beautiful new Walnut Street Community Farm Store, where people in the neighborhood can buy locally grown, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

“People really want to show up,” O’Gilvie says. “I’m convinced of it. We just have got to learn how to talk to each other better. And we’ve got to call people in, instead of calling them out. And I think they’ll come. Don’t you?”