When 2011 began, it started with an all-time high in the price of wheat in the United Kingdom. Food riots in Algeria were quickly followed by high food-inflation rates in India. Droughts in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan resulted in tightening of wheat supplies and whispers of a déjà-vu food crisis witnessed during 2007-2008 were starting to grow louder. The truth is, the global economy is being hit with a self-inflicted situation that has finally caught up with us after all these days – the fight to feed the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that there needs to be a 70% increase in global food production to feed expected population growth.
However, in the SF Bay Area, a different story of food is unfolding. It is unfolding in the direction of the younger generation, the youth, who are driven by the vision to create their own solutions to issues that they current face in the community: food. Their vision goes beyond the current food crisis, to one that encompasses nutrition, food education, sustainability and food justice.
Launched as a partnership between Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Earth island Institute’s New Leaders Initiative, the JUST FOOD campaign was created to support East Bay youth to dream and design their own social ventures, or community benefiting projects, related to the critical theme of food justice.
“I knew that if we could support the development of a local youth-led movement, this local movement would fit into a larger context, and a growing national awareness of the need to address this issue.” – Amy Wilson, Ashoka Youth venture and one of the visionaries of the JUST FOOD campaign
The program, which is driven and developed by youth is in its second year running. It supports teams of young people to lead their own social ventures where they undergo 10 rigorous sessions to develop strong social venture models before presenting to a panel of community stakeholders for feedback and access to seed funding. The Youth teams represent some of the most dynamic East Bay community based organizations and schools such as the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice, Youth Noise, Alameda Point Collaborative, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, and Planting Justice.
Beyond the campaign, Gino Pastori-Ng, the Youth Engagement Specialist for the Ashoka Youth Venture expressed that “we hope to see a paradigm shift in the way youth view themselves and the way they are viewed by the community. We know that by giving youth the opportunity to take an active role in improving their communities, they will step up to the challenge and redefine the youth years as a time of leadership and positive social impact.”
To find out more about the campaign please visit the JUST FOOD website