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Digesting a youth food summit


From October 6 to October 8, 2013, The Food Project intern Phillip Nguyen traveled with North Shore Programs and Community Outreach Manager John Wong to the three-day youth summit, Diversifying the Future of Food. Here is what Phil would like to share with you from his trip.  

My trip out to Missoula, Montana was amazing. Before heading out to the Diversifying the Future of Food Youth Summit, I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know where Montana even was. From the very first hour after arriving, I learned about the sustainable practices that the University of Montana has been putting into practice, including using food from their own campus garden and working towards having only local foods in their cafeteria.

The next two days were jam packed with meeting people from across the state of Montana. Students, teachers, and staff workers of schools, farms, and other organizations eager to learn about how to become and what it means to have real local food in their own communities. My highlight was hearing about a school bus that someone had turned into a mobile greenhouse that traveled from school to school, allowing children to learn and work hands on with the produce that was growing. And going to these conferences allows for The Food Project to see other innovative ideas that we can bring back to the East Coast.

Another experience I was able to be a part of was sitting on a panel with two other youth representing the Rural Coalition in D.C. and S.A.V.E, a club from Hellgate high school practicing environmentally friendly methods. The crowd asked us a range of questions that covered how we got started in our programs to how to expand school clubs. It was awesome to share my experience and talk about all the work I was doing. At the same time, something that I felt was missing was not being able to hear about the work that all the participants were doing. I feel as though when you only focus on three people or a panel of people it takes away from the community we are building and the power in the room. So to change that I was able to ask the closing question by seeing what the audience had to share, which allowed one person from each organization share what group they were with and what their main focus was. They are doing some great work.

Additionally, being able to lead youth and adults in the Food For Thought workshop with John Wang, was another opportunity that I had to engage. Participants of the summit came with open minds and took away knowledge that inspired them to look into their own food systems. This knowledge helped people in discussion that provoked thoughtful conversations touching many different aspects of the food system, especially on a local level.

All in all, with the training that I've received from The Food Project within the last 4 years of working here, I believe I was able to help empower various groups that were trying to make change in this food movement we are working together in. The Food Project has provided me with an amazing experience and it's something that more of our youth should be able share in - even for myself at a younger period. If more of my coworkers had the opportunity to go and see all the innovative actions other organizations like us were taking - how there is a huge movement outside of Greater Boston and the North Shore - I can't even imagine what we could do to help push and lead this movement forward.

 

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