TFFJ grew out of the nonprofit, Students for Service, formed in 2009, to engage teens in meaningful community service programs that benefit at-risk populations. In 2013, the organization honed its focus to the critical issues of food justice and sustainable, healthy food access, launching the TFFJ model. In its first five months, TFFJ raised more than $90,000 to lead youth in building and implementing its first hydroponic farm and outreach program in a low-income neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. A second Brooklyn classroom farm was launched at Urban Assembly Unison School in January 2016.
Within three years from start-up, TFFJ has established project planning teams and secured funding for additional youth-run sites, each of which will produce more than 20 times the amount of food (more than 22,000 lbs of produce annually!) than was generated last year and expand the organization’s reach beyond Brooklyn, to include Manhattan and the Bronx.
This produce will be consumed daily by the students in their schools’ cafeterias and will also be distributed within the surrounding high-need communities through student-run farmers markets and various food assistance programs. Through this process, the program has immediate and measurable impacts on the nutrition and health of the students and the neighborhood.