Food justice is the philosophy that everyone, regardless of income level, should have access to healthy, culturally appropriate food. The food justice movement starts with communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food that is grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers and animals.
Foundations, Inc., based in Moorestown, runs a program known as Seeds for Learning Beyond the Farm, a farm education program that hires high school students to plant and grow produce and to learn more about healthy foods and nutritious eating. While the program is currently running at Martin Luther King High School in northwest Philadelphia, as well as other Philadelphia schools, Foundations has plans to start a similar farm education program in New Jersey.
Brandon Martin, a junior at Hope Charter School, a high school in Philadelphia, has spent the past few summers working for Seeds for Learning. “I eat different food now besides the McDonald’s and the KFCs and all that,” says Brandon. “I’m eating healthy food, fresh food that’s grown by me and my co-workers. And, hopefully, we’ll try to get the whole community to eat the fresh food and the fresh produce that we grow. That’s how we benefit from the farm.”
For Brandon, the value of working on a farm and learning to cook with fresh produce runs even deeper. He is getting a bit of career prep. “Well, for me, it is super cool because I want to become a chef,” he explains. “I actually do want to go to culinary school so it’s like a class before the classes. So I’m learning a lot of stuff like what chefs are supposed to do and what you’re supposed to do in the kitchen—how to hold a knife and all that; everything chefs do.”
Is the food justice movement alive and well in your community? The New Jersey Farm to School Network is partnering with several organizations in New Jersey, including the New Jersey Farm Bureau and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, to make people more aware of local produce and healthy eating. The Farm to School Network is hosting school garden trainings in August 2010 and organizing New Jersey’s first statewide Farm to School Week to showcase fresh, locally grown produce in schools. For dates and locations of the trainings, check out http://www.njfarmtoschool.org/.