YFJN Summits and Conferences

Just Food Conference: Call to Collaboration 

2016 NESAWG Conference was a great accomplishment for the network where we were invited to present at their first ever Youth Track. Youth were able to collaborate with Connecticut food justice youth-led organizations and created growing bonds, as well.
At this year’s Just Food Conference the network will be hosting another Youth Track. Youth will be able to develop and execute their own goals for this portion of the conference.

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 would like to thank Just Food for this amazing opportunity and the Levitt Foundation for funding the youth track at this year’s conference.

We are excited for next year’s conference and hope it will be bigger and better.

 


Fall 2016: Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

NESAWG’s annual It Takes a Region Conference brings together farm and food systems practitioners across the 12-state Northeast region to learn, debate, collaborate, and innovate solutions to critical food systems issues. Each year, we look at the trajectory of the food and farm movement and the role our network can play in shaping its future. We offer in-depth working sessions that tackle important questions about our regional food system and how to strengthen it, drawing from the collective expertise and wisdom of conference attendees.

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They YFJN had the opportunity to work collaboratively with F.R.E.S.H New London for the Youth Empowerment workshop at NESAWG this year. Youth were able to engaged and educate their peers on the need for youth empowerment in the food justice network. F.R.E.S.H New London, strategically focused on the method they use to empower their youth throughout the seasons. Whereas, the YFJN gave examples in which the network uses C.R.A.F.T Days and other methods to engage youth and create a community where they can support and build each other.

 

Overall, this conference was a great experience for youth all across the Northeast region. The need to build a  collective social network for everyone to remain connected was greatly expressed. Thus, the YFJN is a hub for youth- led food, social and  environmental justice organizations to stay in connection.


Fall 2015: Youth Empowerment Summit for Food Justice Advocacy (Y.E.S)

The Youth Empowerment Summit for Food Justice Advocacy (Y.E.S) was held on Saturday, November 7th. The mission of the summit was to highlight the power of youth advocacy through interactive youth-led workshops, panel discussion and movement building activities. Through various planning meetings, the coordinating meeting decided that this summit should focus on advocacy as a strategic tool to create systemic change on food justice issues.

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Y.E.S was the second installment in the youth-led summit series organized by the The Youth Food Justice Network or YFJN (Formerly NEYFJN). The YFJN was created with a mission to build shared learning space for youth organizations involved in the food movement. We organize youth-led summits and local exchanges to connect and build strong solidarity bonds among food justice organizations that create a just, equitable and fair food system for all. The current coordinating committee is made up of NYC based organizations but is open to all northeast youth focused organizations working in the food justice movement. Current coordinating committee members include: Added Value, Bushwick Campus Youth Food Policy Council, Children’s Aid Society, Community Food Advocates, East New York Farms!, EcoStation:NY, Friends of the Highline, and Teenergetic.

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The event was kicked off with a powerful speech made by Darian Harley of Make the Road NY’s Youth Power Project, connecting current food justice struggles to important moments in history and the role youth played in shaping some of the most radical turns for social justice. Attendees then broke out into workshops that covered topics like: adultism, Lunch 4 Learning Campaign, the four branches of government, organizing 101, and access to healthy food using counter-marketing. Kristina Erskine (ESNY and CFA) moderated a youth-only panel discussion, panelists included: Nileska Burgos (Added Value); Pinda Sakho (NYC Food Policy Center); Tianhao Zhang (Teenergetic), and Khaleel  Anderson (Rockaway Youth Task Force). Of course all this learning and organizing had to be balanced with some fun and bonding, the day was full of group activities and even a live performance by Domingo from Green City Force showcasing an original piece about food justice. The day ended with break out sessions, putting together all the lessons learned from the day; what is food justice, what does youth leadership, and how to we impart systemic change.

 

We want to thank all those who came out to the summit and give a big sprout-out to the coordinating committee especially Community Food Advocates for spearheading the event, Trinity Wall St. and the St. Paul’s Chapel team for donating the space and support staff, and the Merck Family Fund for helping us make this summit series possible.

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Darien Harley, addressing the crowd with an inspiring and powerful speech connecting the history of food justice organizing and the role youth play in creating systemic change.

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Youth panelists: (left to right) Kristina Erskine, moderator, (ESNY and CFA), Pinda Sakho (NYC Food Policy Center); Tianhao Zhang (Teenergetic), Nileska Burgos (Added Value) and Khaleel  Anderson (Rockaway Youth Task Force).

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Youth attendees brainstorming to create a collective definition of food justice during break out session.

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summit participants representing: Rockaway Youth Task Force, Bronxworks, East New York Farms and among others.

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Spring 2015: Youth Food Justice Regional Summit

Report back by: East New York Farms!

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On May 30, 2015, East New York Farms!/United Community Centers hosted a  Northeast Regional Youth Food Summit and had a great experience with other youth from all over the Northeast Region. The other groups that were involved in the summit were Added Value, BK Farmyards, Community Food Advocates of NYC, The Children’s Aid Society in New York, EcoStation NY, the Rockaway Youth Task Force, Bushwick Campus Youth Food Policy Council, youth from the Groundwork of Hudson Valley & Somerville, High Line Teens, Bronx Works, and youth from Brotherhood Sister Sol. The day started with a breakfast, laughs and energizers led by interns from East New York Farms.  Youth learned West African, West Indian, Latin, and hip hop dances representing the diverse cultures of East New York.

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The summit created a shared learning space for youth organizations involved in the food movement through food, environmental, and social justice work. It allowed them to connect with other youth and build strong solidarity bonds towards building a just, equitable and fair food system for all. The youth participated in youth-led workshops, field trips component to local urban farms in NYC and a cooking competition.

The East New York Farms! Project Youth led a hands-on workshop showing the other youth how to build up their own farms and gardens using a trellis system in our own farm on New Lots Ave. Also, the youth from Groundwork Hudson Valley taught about alternative and creative ways to grow food in a big city using hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil. Furthermore, the youth learned about Lunch4Learning’s and EcoStation NY’s fight for universal free school lunch, explored the advocacy process as an extension of food justice, and participated in their selfie campaign and petitions.

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Additionally, the afternoon was quite eventful as the youth helped to make a delicious lunch for everyone. After lunch, the youth visited three farms in the afternoon. The hosts were the Bed-stuy Campaign Against Hunger farm, also known as the Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center. The two other farms that the youth visited were ISO Student Farm in Brownsville and EcoStation NY Bushwick campus Farm. Furthermore, the youth returned to a cooking competition between four groups of youth that were judged by other youth on taste, presentation and creativity. The youth ended the day with a “sprout-out”, in which they were able to give shoutouts to anyone and anything they wanted to about the day.

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All in all, it was rewarding that the youth all got to learn about how other youth around the Northeast region address food justice in their communities as a part of a larger movement to build a stronger network of youth food leaders dedicated to establishing a just food system for all! Hence, we are looking forward to our follow-up summit on advocacy this summer and our Fall exchange between the groups. Our goal is not to end the network after this summit but to continue to forge relationships and transform this network into a powerful network of Northeast Regional Youth Food leaders making strides in food justice.

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