The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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Working with City Year

Editor's note: Here's an account from intern Keely Curliss on an event our interns ran for City Year.

interns and youth from City Year training
interns and youth from City Year training
Two weeks ago I arrived for the first time at the Huntington St. YMCA at the early hour of 8am. I was happy to find the other 16 interns that I currently work with already practicing away at the presentations we had been working to develop since the fall. I quickly found my place in the group of ‘openers’ who were working on the introduction presentation that we would be delivering in a short hour. John looking exhausted from all the energy and time he had put into this day gathered us around, “Are you guys ready?” he asked. We all responded in our groggy “I definitely didn’t get enough sleep” way, that in fact we were ready and excited to be the first youth to run the curriculum aspect of City Year’s day.

The interns have been working since the fall to develop curriculum and workshops to be used for educating the youth at City Year. Starting with simply brainstorming workshops and important information we have learned from The Food Project, we came full circle to outlining a structured day of curriculum for the “Young Heroes”. We decided on a total of five workshops and one mini-workshop. Of the five workshops only one was without change. We designed two of the workshops from scratch for this day, and the others were either changed to fit into the twenty-minute time slot or changed to be more interactive for the middle school students. The mini-workshop was designed to link all the workshops they would participate in throughout the day by connecting them all to their favorite meal. Whether the workshop was about migrant workers or local food systems vs. global industrial food systems at the end of each workshop the facilitator would connect it back to their favorite meal.

As I traveled from one workshop to another it amazed me how powerful it was for these youth to be taught and educated by their peers. The strong reactions and realizations from the youth were enough to make my day. In all actuality we are only a few years older than them and yet the knowledge we have gained from working at The Food Project makes us seem like experts. Seeing the confidence and pride radiate from the smiles on the other intern’s faces made me feel truly successful. It was relieving to know that all our hard work was worth it, and that we affected 100 or more youth’s lives in only a few hours. After the all the youth gathered back into the auditorium we did our closing. The enthusiasm of the middle-schoolers couldn’t cease to amaze me. I felt so successful knowing that their new-found knowledge and concern for the food system could be accredited to the team of sixteen interns that stood next to me. I thought back on the long process which had occurred. The process had been like the definition we like to use for the food system… we had seen this process from seed to fork. From the idea that we wanted to reach out and educate youth before high school (the seed), to the actual day where the middle school students went through the workshops and expanded and gained knowledge about our food system (eating the food off the fork). It is so great to know that we successfully piloted this partnership with City Year, a partnership that hopefully will grow and expand for years to come.  

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