By: Aliya Brown
On October 30, 2023, TFFJ held its annual Feast Gala at The Lighthouse in Chelsea Piers, celebrating 10 years of bold innovations to improve fresh food access, nutrition, and health in New York City’s low-income communities through school-based, youth-led hydroponic farming.
With over 200 attendees, the festive evening featured a performance by Academy Award Winning star of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and host of the 2022 and 2023 Tony Awards, Ariana DeBose, who also emceed the extraordinary evening. The incredible night also featured Legendary Food Network celebrity chef, author and founder/owner of Melba’s Restaurant, Melba Wilson, who curated a special menu just for the night! TFFJ’s 10th Anniversary Gala honored Teens for Food Justice Champion, Randy Stern, and recognized Distinguished TFFJ Alumna Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez for their unwavering support and commitment to TFFJ’s mission of ending food insecurity once and for all.
This delightful celebration also honored students Alisha Antonetti, Jasmary Quezada, Namar Antoine, Sa’nniyah Watson and Axel Ramos from the Brownsville Collaborative Middle School of Agriculture & Technology (BCMS) for their brilliant efforts to not only participate in TFFJ programming and support the farm, but, also, by taking direct action to end food insecurity in their communities. BCMS scholar Alisha Antonetti participated in a fireside chat with Ariana DeBose, to share her efforts to establish a community fridge at her school.
In addition to the extraordinary performances, menu and event programming, attendees were able to interact with full-scale hydroponic systems TFFJ installed at The Lighthouse for the event, as well as harvest farm-fresh, student-grown produce at the end of the night. The gala also featured Mystery Bags available for purchase, filled with goodies such as TFFJ-branded grow-kits, pickles made by students in partnership with chefs from Michelin-starred restaurant COTE NYC, TFFJ t-shirts, scented candles, Pipcorn snacks, Babkas by Brooklyn Brands and more, along with specialty items like high-end bottles of wine and top-shelf alcohol, a gift box from The Urban + The Mystic, gift certificates to SAGA, COTE, REI and more.
The gala raised a whopping $987,000 and counting to support TFFJ’s mission of ending food insecurity in one generation through youth-led, high-capacity hydroponic farming. TFFJ remains incredibly grateful for the continued support and belief in our mission–that one generation can radically change the future of sustainable farming, and that the possibility of ending food insecurity is well within reach.
Aliya Brown is the Senior Communications & Content Manager at Teens For Food Justice.