The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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You Raised $430,000 for Youth, Food, and Community at the Big Shindig

The Food Project kicked off its 27th growing season with the Big Shindig on Wednesday, April 25 at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. This year, over 325 supporters came together to celebrate youth, food, and community at our annual fundraiser. Hosted by co-chairs, Michelle Dyer and Katie Ryan, and Presenting Sponsors Bank of America and Linda and Bill McQuillan, this was the most successful Big Shindig yet! The event raised over $430,000 to support youth leadership, diverse communities, and increased access to fresh, healthy, local, affordable food for all.

We felt honored to be surrounded by so many inspiring people dedicated to youth leaders, diverse communities, and sustainable local farms and food systems. We are overwhelmed by generosity and dedication of all of our supporters who make this vision a reality every day.

“The Food Project is a safe place where young people, from different backgrounds and life experiences come together across differences,” said Linda McQuillan, Chair of The Food Project's Board of Trustees. “Youth share their personal truths about very difficult topics like race, gender, gender identity, and the realities of economic inequality. They share their own experiences with food insecurity and other injustices—all while learning to care for the battered earth that they have inherited.”
This year’s Big Shindig featured youth speakers from The Food Project’s Dirt Crew and Root Crew, who shared stories of their first day at Seed Crew, building gardens for grateful neighbors, and what The Food Project’s invocation, “for love of land and people,” means to them. “To me, loving land and people are discovering the power of my community,” said Root Crew member, Red H., from Lynn. “Being a woman of color in America, it feels like I don't have a voice. The Food Project gives me the confidence that my voice matters. I am able to connect with my community through the land, and understand the power it has to help my community.”

The event also celebrated 2018 Leadership Awardees, Cassandria Campbell and Jackson Renshaw—alumni of The Food Project and co-founders of Fresh Food Generation, a Boston-based food truck and catering company operating primarily in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan—where healthy options are often hard to find. Cassandria and Jackson were celebrated for their commitment to hiring from the communities they serve and for their tireless work making fresh, healthy, local food available to all.

During her acceptance speech, Cassandria told the story of why she wanted to start Fresh Food Generation. “As a teen growing up in Roxbury, The Food Project gave me my first opportunity to serve my community and learn about environmental and social justice,” she said. Upon graduating from MIT with a master’s degree in urban planning, Cassandria returned to Roxbury with a new perspective. “I realized just how limited access to healthy food is and the severe impact it is having on my community’s health. I knew immediately that I wanted to help create an alternative to the processed food sold at corner stores in Roxbury and other underserved neighborhoods.”
Bank of America’s Allen Jones spoke passionately about the company’s commitment to healthy communities. “Bank of America has been involved with The Food Project for many years,” said Jones. “We’re committed to supporting programs that build economic mobility for individuals, families, and communities. Healthy children and families are the foundation of stable, vibrant communities that provide opportunity for all.”

A heartfelt thank you to our presenting sponsors, Bank of America and Linda and Bill McQuillan, and to all of our extraordinary sponsors, as well as our dedicated host committee, and the dozens of hard-working volunteers who made this event possible! A special thanks to our remarkable co-chairs, Michelle Dyer and Katie Ryan, and to sponsors Gourmet Caterers, who provided the evening’s delicious meal. 

Click here for photos of the event and check out more stories from the evening on social media at #BigShindig2018.