Teens for Food Justice Hosts Annual Student Leadership Conference

June 6, 2023
TFFJ Students at COTE for SLC

The Annual Event Empowers Students to Share Ideas and Highlight Advocacy Efforts
Focused on Food Insecurity and Equity

New York, NY (June 6, 2023) — Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) hosted its annual Student Leadership Conference at Michelin-starred COTE Korean Steakhouse on June 3rd, bringing together 50 students and interns and 13 partner teachers and Farmer-Educators from six partner campuses to share their work furthering food equity and access for all New Yorkers through school-based, youth-led hydroponic indoor agriculture. TFFJ was also joined by the Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture Deputy Director, Evan Burr, who offered encouraging remarks to students and interns attending the conference.

During the Conference, students from TFFJ’s various New York City partner campuses shared ideas and celebrated their accomplishments with an interactive dining experience, sponsored by COTE, that incorporated ingredients sourced directly from one of TFFJ’s school-based hydroponic farms. 

This year’s conference featured a video compilation that highlighted student projects promoting sustainable farming, health and nutrition, and universal access to healthy food across all TFFJ farms, including

  • A plant-based healthy nacho bar, created by students with support from the DeWitt Clinton Educational Campus cafeteria staff, to show the value of student voice in selecting school lunch menus
  • A comedy skit about the importance of composting at the DeWitt Clinton Educational Campus in the Bronx
  • A Hydroponic Greens Giveaway at the Far Rockaway Educational Campus in Queens
  • A DIY hydroponic bottle-system at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Campus in Manhattan
  • A community food distribution at the Urban Assembly Unison School in Brooklyn
  • A salad prep demonstration and community fridge restock at the Brownsville Collaborative Middle School for Agriculture & Technology in Brooklyn

The leadership conference, which brought together more than 60 students and teachers from  the five NYC partner campuses where TFFJ currently operates hydroponic farms as well as one that will open Fall 2024, highlighted the incredible work that students are doing in their schools and communities to transform food systems and broaden food access. The event also included peer-lead discussions and student awards presented to Brownsville Collaborative Middle School for Agriculture and Technology student Jayden Jenkins, and DeWitt Clinton Educational Campus students Tanya Rojas and Briguit Farfan. Awards are presented to students who show exemplary effort to advocate for food justice and sustainability through their engagement with TFFJ farms and programming.

TFFJ Founder and CEO Katherine Soll said, “TFFJ is proud to uplift the efforts of our students, who are working to ensure access to affordable healthy food in their communities, promote food security in their schools and empower their peers to be food justice advocates leaders. At the annual Student Leadership Conference, students are able to share insights, successes and new ideas from their respective TFFJ farms and use these discussions to spur further innovation and connection. We are deeply grateful to COTE for sharing their space with us and our students and providing  a unique and immersive dining experience that incorporated the produce these youth grow in their schools into a fine dining restaurant menu. How cool is that?”

Alex Muñoz-Suárez, COO of Gracious Hospitality Management and Member of the Board of Directors of TFFJ:  “It has been an incredible honor working with TFFJ and supporting their students, who have become food champions for their communities. Coming from a team that believes in the true power of community, it felt only fitting to host the conference at COTE, giving the students a chance to celebrate all their efforts and see their hard work come to life through a culinary experience that incorporated their school-grown ingredients.” 

Evan Burr, Deputy Director at Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture: “A central goal of the Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture is to support the connection between climate change and urban agriculture, and I believe that our planet will be in great hands with students like these who are equipped and committed to making a difference each day. Kathy (TFFJ CEO/Founder) and TFFJ are meeting the urgent need for food equity in NYC head-on, and affecting the kind of change necessary to end hunger, once and for all.”

About Teens for Food Justice

Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) operates high-capacity hydroponic farms on six school campuses across four New York City boroughs and in Denver, Colorado. TFFJ students use real-world 21st-century science and technology to grow up to 10,000 pounds (per school) of hydroponic produce annually. Through the program, TFFJ’s farmers develop a meaningful solution to food insecurity, transform their relationship with the food they eat, and develop cutting-edge STEM skills needed in a new green-sector economy.


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