Just Food Conference: Call to Collaboration
Youth were able to developed Just Food Conference’s first ever youth track that was specifically catered to youth and consisted of workshops led by youth. This exposure allowed for the youth to developed scholarships applications, award their peers 100 free scholarships, select workshops and develop the youth lunch menu.
We are excited for next year’s conference and hope it will be bigger and better.
Lunch4Learning Campaign- Community Food Advocates
In 2015, the youth were able to be apart of the Lunch4learning campaign, spearheaded by Community Food Advocates, which advocated for the expansion of free school lunches in New York City public schools.
While partnering with Community Food Advocates, youth were able to attend workshops which provided them with more information about the campaign. They were able to brainstorm and execute the selfie campaign, which I must add, was a major success. The selfie campaign was a strategy that youth used to take pictures with a template that has a statement as to why universal free school is important for them. After the all the monthly trainings, workshops and testimonials at city hall, the youth felt empowered and prepared to lead the Youth Empowerment Summit (Y.E.S) for Food Justice and Advocacy.
This summit allowed for the youth to understand the importance of youth leadership and collaboration between other youth organizations. Successfully, free school lunch was implemented in stand alone middle schools. Which are middle schools that does not have elementary and high schools that share the same building space. The fight for universal free school lunch is progressing and the youth voice is imperative in order to push the policy.
Northeast Youth Food Justice Network attended the annual Just Food Conference held on Sunday, March 13th, at Teachers College, Columbia University. The annual Just Food Conference brings together hundreds of community organizers, urban and rural farmers, CSA members, educators, youth and members of the press for a full day of interactive workshops, panel discussions, and good food, focused on building a more equitable food movement.
The conference started out on a very high note as youth of the YJFN accepted the Mckinley Hightower-Beyah Award on behalf of the planning committee for the Youth Empowerment Summit (Y.E.S. Summit) and the Northeast Youth Food Justice Network. Each year, this award honors New York City youth who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their community through their involvement in urban agriculture and food justice work. This year, the award recognized all the youth who worked tirelessly throughout 2015 to host two regional gatherings for youth, by youth involved in the food justice movement in and around NYC. These events convened more than one hundred youth to share their skills, experiences and knowledge with each other. Thank you to Just Food and the Hightower-Beyah family for honoring us with this award at the Just Food Conference.
After the award, Senior Field Organizer, Khaleel Anderson gave a Food Talk on his work on food deserts in Queens and with the Rockaway Youth Task Force. Then, the Northeast Youth Food Justice Network hosted two sessions. The first was a panel discussion led by Peace Titilawo on the importance of the network and youth experiences in planning the summits. Also, a Youth Identity Caucus was held to collaborate with all the youth at the conference on upcoming events that will bring youth together to work towards a fairer and equitable food system. We hope to continue to collaborate more and grow as a powerful network of food justice leaders.