Whether they’re hungry for any food, healthy food, or to end food injustice, youth engagement in food binds together people like beans growing up a corn stalk. In homes, neighborhoods, schools, villages, towns and cities around the world, young people are changing the world through thoughtful, productive and engaged action focused on food production, food consumption, food quality and food waste.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”― Ann Wigmore
Ways Youth Engagement in Food Happens
Youth as Teachers — Young people can change the world by starting in their schools, homes and communities, teaching their siblings, peers, younger children, parents and adults about food, food-related issues and more.
Youth as Farmers — Raising the food they eat can allow children and youth to be more invested, educated and engaged in their health and wellness. Learning, growing and harvesting their own fruits and vegetables, meats and other foods can empower young people in tremendous ways, causing their world to be healthier and more connected than ever.
Youth-Led Community Organizing — Working together with their families, their peers and their neighbors, young people can organize their communities to change the world through food. They can lead community gardens, advocate for healthy foods in food deserts, or teach healthy nutrition courses for their peers.
Needs for Youth Engagement in Food
Education — Learning about the food they eat, including where its from, how its raised, what it does to their bodies and how it affects their communities can significantly improve the abilities of young people. They can learn which food is the safest and most powerful for their health, well-being and their communities’ sustainability.
Training — Young people can build the skills and abilities they need to change the world through food with training focused on applicable skills. They can learn farming skills, nutritional teaching information, assessment skills and other information. By becoming trainers of trainers, children and youth can also transform the food cultures they live in everyday.
Technology — Young people can learn about food, nutrition, food deserts and related issues through technology. Social media, videos, email, texting and other tools can empower, engage and educate children and youth. Changing the world through food can happen thoroughly, quickly and meaningfully.
You Might Like…
- “City students urge mayor to fund free lunch for all public school kids” by John Spina for The Daily News
- “Youth Empowerment Summit” by The Children’s Aid Society
- Growing Young Leaders in East New York: Lessons from the East New York Farms! Youth Internship Program by Sarita Daftary-Steel for East New York Farms
- Real Food Challenge
- Southeast Youth Food Activism Summit
- Youth Food Justice – The Zine
- “Food-system activism cultivated in 70 high school students at first Youth Grow Summit” by Paul Bennetech for the Cornell University Chronicle
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in food in your community or organization, contact us.