The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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Changing Seasons, Changing Faces

As we get ready for another growing season, we’d like to thank and bid a fond farewell to departed staff and welcome new members of The Food Project team.

Miriam and son Zalen on the farm.
Miriam and son Zalen on the farm.
This past December, former Director of Agriculture and long time Lincoln farmer Miriam Stason left us after eight years helping us grow farm-fresh food. In life off the farm, Miriam will be focused on raising her young family, which will grow to four when she gives birth to her second child in late March. Taking up the reins as our new agriculture director is Tim Laird, who will continue to manage the Baker Bridge farm in Lincoln. Pedro Ghirotti will be joining Tim as our new field manager. We're excited to have Pedro working on a soil fertility plan that should help make our fields more productive in the coming season and for years to come.

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Reflections on NE Food & Justice Summit

Anim Steel, Real Food Challenge cofounder and Food Project national programs director addresses over 500 NE Food & Justice Summit attendees.
Anim Steel, Real Food Challenge cofounder and Food Project national programs director addresses over 500 NE Food & Justice Summit attendees.
From where I stand, the weekend was a huge success. It was what we hoped for and more. The event showed that there is a movement ready to burst out there: over 500 youth showed up at Northeastern University. If it hadn’t been for a snowstorm, we would probably have had over 650. The registrations were pouring in at the end.

And this wasn’t just the “choir.” There were many young people there who were pretty new to the issue of food.

The diversity of the crowd was striking in other ways. The Summit was attended by young people from some of the most and least privileged places in this country, from inner cities to Ivy Leagues and in-between. I hope—I think—we created an environment with the ethos of The Food Project: looking injustice in the face while also creating common ground—a deeply respectful space. 

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TFP Intern Impresses at Museum of Science

(left to right) Ken Kaplan of MIT, Food Project Intern Alvin Andino, and Karen Spiller of Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness take part in a Q & A session at the Museum of Science's Let's Talk about Food forum.
(left to right) Ken Kaplan of MIT, Food Project Intern Alvin Andino, and Karen Spiller of Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness take part in a Q & A session at the Museum of Science's Let's Talk about Food forum.
On Friday, January 21, The Food Project made a big splash at the first session of the Museum of Science's "Let's Talk about Food" forum series. The many attendees who came despite the evening's cold weather saw the best of The Food Project, represented by Intern Alvin Andino. With passion and poise, he described the organization he's worked with the past two and half years, focusing on the impact TFP youth programs have made on him and other youth he's known.

"It's important to educate people when they're young about good food and healthy eating habits," Alvin told the audience. "These habits can be set for a lifetime so it's important to reach youth with this message."

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Intern Alvin Andino Awarded Posse Scholarship

Alvin and D.I.R.T. Crew member Peter work to collect surveys at TFP's farmers' market in Roxbury.
Alvin and D.I.R.T. Crew member Peter work to collect surveys at TFP's farmers' market in Roxbury.
We are pleased to announce that Food Project Intern Alvin Andino has been awarded a Posse Scholarship. Run by the Posse Foundation, this innovative and highly selective program selects 60 young people from a large pool of applicants (in 2009, the pool numbered about 12,000) to receive full-tuition college scholarships.

Alvin and alumnus Stefan listen closely to Chef Didi Emmons while preparing to serve lunch at the National Governors Association summer conference.
Alvin and alumnus Stefan listen closely to Chef Didi Emmons while preparing to serve lunch at the National Governors Association summer conference.
In his two and a half years working with The Food Project, Alvin has risen up the ranks, beginning as a crew worker, working as an assistant leader, and now serving as an intern. Currently, he also serves on TFP's board of trustees as a youth member.

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Meet Lincoln Farmers Kadeem and Amanda

each week two of our Lincoln youth interns will introduce themselves

Hello, my name is Kadeem and I’m 18 years old from Dorchester. I am a senior at Wayland High School through Boston’s METCO program and I play football and run track. This is my second summer working at the Food Project. Now as a Lincoln intern, I hope that working on the farm will expand my knowledge about agriculture. During the Summer Youth Program last year I learned how to be a better farmer by weeding and harvesting. My favorite vegetable is broccoli.

Hello, my name is Amanda Chin. I’m 17 years old and just graduated from Arlington High School. This fall I’m heading over to the University of Vermont. I participated in the Summer Youth Program in 2009 and now am working as a Lincoln intern. For this summer I love being part of The Food Project community and working on the land as well as learning more about the food we eat and harvest. My favorite vegetables are green beans.

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Summer Youth Program underway!

Editor's note: North Shore Fellow Mike Syversen sends the following update on how things stand at the beginning of our Summer Youth Program

Hi everyone,
This is an exciting week for us up here on the North Shore. Our summer youth program started this Wednesday. Thirty youth ages 14-17 are starting their work here where they will be farming, participating in farmer’s markets, learning about the food system, social justice, and community development, gaining work experience, and much more. The crew leaders, assistant crew leaders, and staff who lead the youth have created a program that is bound to have an impact on the lives of the youth. We’re excited for the joys and challenges that the youth will bring. We know they will have a great experience!

This Monday was our third Lynn CSA pickup day, and everything on that front is running smoothly. It is great to see the members each week and know the food we provide them with has been harvested from our farm that same day. Getting to chat with the members about the produce and what they do with it is a highlight of the week.

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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.

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Eating school lunch every day

chili
chili
A friend of TFP recently passed on the URL to the facinating new blog FED UP WITH LUNCH: THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROJECT. "Mrs. Q", an anonymous teacher in a US school, eats the lunch from her cafeteria every day and writes a post about it, complete with a photo. In addition to the lunch profiles, recent posts have included a FAQ on the project and an open thread that's pulled in some interesting perspectives from other school lunches across the country. Well worth a vist if you'd like to see for yourself what American children are faced with on a daily basis.

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The 2010 Winter Institute is a wrap

Our annual Winter Institute came and went last week. Following is Institute organizer Greg Gale's summary. If you were interested but couldn't make it this winter, it's not too early to start thinking about attending the Summer Institute, coming up August 4th - 6th.

13 eager souls participated in this year's Winter Institute. They came from as close as Boston and as far away as NJ, NYC, VT, and ME. Most of them are running existing programs and some were getting ready to start new ones. All of them shared a deep passion for engaging youth in sustainable food systems work.

Their favorite part, imagine, was being with TFP teens talking, building raised bed containers, sorting seeds and doing a social justice workshop that required them to scramble across the floor grabbing candy in the ‘Scramble for Wealth and Power’. In between these experiential moments, we did some powerful reflection and learning about the theory and practice that drives TFP work.

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Looking Back at TFP From College

Gabriella Spitzer, an intern this past summer in Roxbury, wrote us recently. Here's what she said about TFP's impact on her experience at college (reprinted with permission!)

I wanted to tell you again how grateful I am to The Food Project. I am now at Barnard College, and I use so much that I learned from The Food Project all the time. I can and do talk about all the different ways oppression hurts people in all kinds of contexts. I'm so glad I came to college with the framework for thinking about oppression that I learned at the Food Project. I'm thinking seriously about majoring in Environmental Policy, and that comes directly from the work I did at The Food Project. I volunteered at a preschool this past semester, and I will work at a different preschool this coming semester because I know that I can't spend four years only dedicated to me -- I need to serve my community always, no matter what else I am doing. Thank you. I came to college prepared in part because of The Food Project.

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