Posted on Wed, July 06, 2011 by Hnin
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School’s out—but the high school students and recent grads of New York 2 New Orleans Coalition (NY2NO)—a youth-led organization—won’t be relaxing. They’ll be leading 7 brigades of their peers through Food Justice Summer Part II—a service learning program that takes teens to urban farms and community organizations in New York and New Orleans.
NY2NO’s work to engage others in learning about food relative to social, racial and economic injustices is both inspiring and relevant. Just consider this:
These realities have important policy implications. According to USC demographer Dowell Myers, our nation’s dependence on an increasingly diverse workforce means we can’t afford underinvestment in “someone else’s children”. Healthy low-income communities and communities of color are vital to America’s economy.
“Just because the U.S. is more diverse, it doesn’t mean that every community is going to be okay,” says Katelyn. It’s a lesson epitomized in the Lower 9th Ward—an underserved community whose story galvanized a whole generation of young people to organize and take action in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
As the first brigade of students arrived in New Orleans this past weekend, 17-year-old organizer Alex Goldman recalls his experience:
Katelyn added, “When you are on a trip with people from different communities in New York, you start to relate things back home. You hear how what you’re seeing in New Orleans is the same as what they’re seeing… in the South Bronx and certain parts of Brooklyn.”
Though it only lasts a few weeks, NY2NO’s Food Justice Summer changes lives. “It gives young people opportunities to dig into dirt, grow food, and learn about their history,” says Alex. Moreover, when young people believe and invest in each other’s leadership, they gain the confidence and organizing skills to grow healthy communities for our collective future.
This blog is part of a Slow Food USA summer blog series called Youth Beets—which features stories about young people changing the food system. How are you or young people in your community taking action? Tell us in the comments.
Photo credit: NY2NO