Community Food Advocates partners with public schools and youth-based organizations throughout New York City to support and develop youth leaders to advocate for equitable food justice policies. Through on-going campaigns, including Lunch 4 Learning’s push for universal free school lunch, we elevate the voices of young people, provide opportunities for young leaders to learn and develop advocacy skills, and support youth to pass on skills and experiences to their peers.
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Youth Food Advocates
The NYC Youth Food Advocates (YFA) program is a youth-led group for young people (ages 14-21) who want to learn about social justice, public policy and advocacy, and are ready to create systemic change in New York City food systems, with a focus on school food. Youth will work in a fun and collaborative environment with other young people from across the City and develop the leadership, research, collaboration and communication skills critical to lead change.
YFA is action-oriented. Youth will:
Plan and facilitate meetings
Create and collect surveys
Speak and/or present at food justice conferences
Create social media campaigns
Talk to policy makers and school officials
Host guest speakers
Collaborate with school food staff
YFA Program Information
New YFA members participate in a 4-day foundational leadership training.
YFA members meet weekly for 1 to 2 hours to plan, organize and participate in campaign actions throughout the school year.
YFA members provide valuable expert input on the school food experience.
YFA members play an active role in the decision-making process to bring about change in four major areas: COVID-19 Response, Menu Flexibility, Cafeteria Environment, and Communication.
COVID-19 and Pandemic-EBT
Under the Pandemic-EBT federal relief program, all NYC public school students will receive $420 for groceries to make up for missed school meals while school buildings were closed during spring 2020.
The spring 2020 shelter-in-place mandates amplified communication challenges to reach the most vulnerable New York families. Many young people, including our own YFA members, serve as the cultural and language brokers in their households. Knowing this, in May 2020 our virtual work with young people shifted into an online educational P-EBT Campaign. During weekly virtual meetings, YFA members became P-EBT experts, brainstormed youth-friendly messaging and materials, and launched a social media campaign, including a live online P-EBT Q&A Lunchtime. Our young people reached nearly 5,000 New Yorkers about the Pandemic-EBT benefit through these efforts.
In March 2016, CFA launched a series of free workshops to youth interested in creating systemic change and building expertise in social justice advocacy. Through campaign examples such as Lunch 4 Learning's push for universal free school lunch, youth gained in-depth understanding of the advocacy process and strategies to create change.
Our workshops are ideal for anyone looking to build expertise as a social justice advocate, get involved in the food justice movement, or connect with other activists. Our hands-on, interactive approach ensures youth learn from each other and build relationships with other advocates.
Youth Empowerment Summit
In November 2015, Community Food Advocates’ Lunch 4 Learning youth leaders partnered with other youth-centered organizations including Added Value, Bushwick Campus Youth Food Policy Council, East New York Farms!, EcoStation:NY, Friends of the High Line, New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, and Teenergetic, to organize the Y.E.S.! Youth Empowerment Summit for Food Justice Advocacy. The Summit was hosted at Trinity Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and brought together over 100 young people from throughout New York City and the northeast region.
The goal of the Summit was to promote collaboration between youth advocates working toward a more fair and equitable food system. Through youth-led panels, speakers, and workshops, participants learned about how other youth use advocacy to create systemic change around food and related social justice issues in their communities. Participants also learned about current youth-centered campaigns and how these efforts connect in the larger movement for food justice. Youth left the Summit inspired and equipped with new tools to create positive change in their communities.