TFFJ Teens Team Up With American Heart Association, Advocating for Healthy Food in Bodegas and Grocery Stores

Teens for Food Justice has joined forces with the American Heart Association to launch a comprehensive youth-led advocacy campaign focused on increasing the availability of healthy food options in local bodegas and grocery stores in their communities. Through the process of collecting and analyzing data, learning about food justice issues, exploring tools for effective advocacy and community outreach, and collaborating with peers, students will learn how to advocate for change in their communities and understand the impact of having healthier food options where they shop for snacks most often.

This campaign will engage 45 TFFJ Teens from The Urban Assembly Unison School and Brownsville Collaborative Middle School in Brooklyn, and DeWitt Clinton High School Educational Campus in the Bronx, where TFFJ currently runs youth-led hydroponic farms and health, food justice and advocacy programming. Through this campaign, our students will survey their local foodscape, learn about food deserts and food swamps, scrutinize fast food advertising tactics that often target teenagers and young people by using colorful and catchy marketing. They will also launch a social media campaign in which students will directly engage their peers and community in conversations around what healthy food access looks like where they live, whether good food is equally available in all NYC communities, and, if not, what they and others can do to change that.

In April, students from all three schools will come together for a high-impact leadership conference in Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams’ office, where they will each showcase their school-specific social media campaigns and share their research on healthy food availability in bodegas and grocery stores in their communities to further discuss understand what food access looks like across different NYC communities with one another and the Borough President. Through this process, they hope to encourage Borough President Adams to support their efforts to improve the availability of nutritious food in all NYC communities.

TFFJ Teens will also participate in the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day, where they will present their data on the availability and affordability of nutritious food in their communities to their local council members and advocate for increased healthy food access in their districts.

In addition to their research and advocacy work around healthy food access, our students continue to provide their schools and communities with hyper-local, nutritious produce from their school farms.

What’s Growing at the TFFJ Farms

DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx:

At the TFFJ/Sun Club farm at DeWitt Clinton HS, students grew over 1,520 pounds of produce since September. 500 lbs of nutritious, hyper-local produce was donated to City Harvest to be distributed to those in need all over NYC, and the rest was served during lunch in the school cafeteria on a daily basis.

The Urban Assembly Unison School (UA Unison), Brooklyn:

From September through December 2018, over 300 pounds of student-grown produce was served in the school cafeteria and made available to community members, all grown in their 500 square foot hydroponic farm.

We are thrilled to share that, beginning this semester, all 6th-grade students at UA Unison will participate in a two-week intensive course in hydroponic urban agriculture, based on the Career and Technology Education (CTE) track, and using a curriculum designed by TFFJ.

Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (BCMS), Brooklyn:

Over 75 BCMS students across the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades have completed the farm build and are growing their first tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy greens.

The farm will grow nearly 1,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious produce each month for their school and the Brownsville community.

BCMS students have already harvested dozens of pounds of fresh, healthy produce that was shared with students, teachers, and community members. Produce will soon be going directly from the farm to the school’s cafeteria to be served during lunch for all students in the building.

Empowering Teens Feeding Communities Building a Healthy Sustainable Future