By: Aliya Brown
Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) is celebrating a decade of transformative programming in NYC schools, a journey that has empowered and educated students, instilled a passion for sustainable agriculture, and created ripples of change in the food justice landscape. As we celebrate this momentous 10th-year anniversary, let’s take a moment to reflect on the organization’s incredible impact.
A Vision Takes Root
Ten years ago, TFFJ was founded with a vision: to empower the youth of New York City to become active participants in their community through civic engagement. Over the years, and by recognizing the devastating impacts of food insecurity, TFFJ evolved its efforts to combat food insecurity, transform access to healthy and affordable produce, and promote sustainable agriculture in the face of a rapidly changing climate crisis. TFFJ recognized the importance of engaging young individuals in addressing critical issues related to diet-related diseases, food access, equity, and environmental sustainability.
TFFJ’s core mission is to address food insecurity in New York City, Denver and beyond, and combat the damaging effects of food-related diseases. Over the years, TFFJ has made significant strides in achieving this goal. Fresh, student-grown produce from our hydroponic systems has made its way to underserved communities, providing an accessible and nutritious food source to thousands in need.
Nurturing Young Changemakers
Over the past decade, TFFJ’s programs have been the nurturing grounds for countless young changemakers. TFFJ students have been provided with the knowledge, tools, and resources to make a difference. They have immersed themselves in the world of hydroponic farming, gaining hands-on experience in growing fresh, nutritious produce in an urban environment. Through curricular day programming, TFFJ students and interns have gained important workforce development skills that will continue to shape the future of the green sector economy.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of TFFJ’s journey has been its ability to empower the next generation of leaders and advocates for food justice. TFFJ students have gained direct experience with food justice advocacy, from engaging school administrators on improvements to their school lunch menus, to testifying before city council in support of food justice initiatives and policy, and more. The organization has instilled a sense of responsibility for the environment and the well-being of the community in its participants. It has sparked a passion for sustainability and social justice that will continue to drive positive change for years to come.
A Growing Impact on Schools
TFFJ’s presence in NYC and Denver schools has grown exponentially, with an ever-expanding network of participating campuses. The hydroponic farms that have taken root in these schools have not only become sources of fresh produce but also powerful educational tools. Students, teachers, and the broader school community have all witnessed the transformative impact of sustainable agriculture. In just 10 years, TFFJ has expanded to six schools and campuses, distributing thousands of pounds of fresh, student-grown produce annually, and serving thousands of students through programming annually. With additional farms underway, TFFJ is well-positioned to grow its impact on schools in the decade to come and beyond.
Celebrating the Future
As we celebrate TFFJ’s 10th-year anniversary of programming in NYC and Denver, we not only acknowledge the incredible achievements of the past decade but also look ahead with excitement and optimism. The organization’s vision remains as strong as ever, and its impact continues to grow.
The journey of TFFJ in New York City schools has been a story of transformation, empowerment, and positive change. The organization’s commitment to food justice and sustainable agriculture is unwavering. As it enters its second decade, we can only imagine the incredible impact that TFFJ will have on the lives of young people and the communities it serves.
TFFJ has sown the seeds of a brighter, more sustainable future, and we eagerly anticipate the rich harvest that the next ten years will bring.
Aliya Brown is the Senior Communications & Content Manager at Teens For Food Justice.