2016 Food Justice Youth Summit
By Capital City Public Charter School
On April 7, 2016, 11th graders at Capital City Public Charter School hosted the 2nd Annual Food Justice Youth Summit to build awareness about food justice issues, both nationally and locally, at Friends Meeting House of Washington. This year’s event featured keynote speaker, Lauren Nixon, a food and wellness educator, and more than 20 student-led sessions on topics ranging from GMOs and food labels, to factory farming and the intersection of food and race, with such creative titles as “Don’t Eat it! Just Beat it!” and “Can You Taste the GMO?”
Along with Capital City’s student-led workshops, partner organizations Mighty Greens from Eastern High School, the University of the District of Columbia, Senzu Juicery, and American University also led sessions, which included “Launching a Successful Youth Cooperative Business” to “Bees and Your Dinner Table.” This was the first year that multiple organizations joined Capital City students in leading workshops.
“This event was very powerful,” said high school principal Belicia Reaves. “The students’ presentations were authentic, well researched, and of very high-quality. Adults and students were fully engaged, asking questions and even furiously taking notes about what they learned. I was very impressed.”
At-large District of Columbia State Board of Education member Mary Lord observed on Twitter that the event demonstrates “what deeper learning looks like, [as] students use unequal obstacle course to show food injustice.”
This year’s event attracted nearly 200 attendees, including students from Cardozo High School, Eastern High School, Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy, Latin American Youth Center, and Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School.
“In one of the sessions I attended,” said Aleghzia, a 9th grader at Friendship Tech in Southeast Washington, DC and a member of Tech Prep Greenhands (her school’s urban farming club), “the presenters told us about what is in fast food and showed us food that three days later looked the same. I did not know that! I never want to eat fast food again.”
About the Food Justice Expedition
The 11th grade Food Justice Expedition is an interdisciplinary study (a key component of the EL Education model) of the impact of food on our community–both locally and globally. Three essential questions guide the students’ investigation:
- How does what I eat reflect who I am?
- Where does our food come from?
- What food choices must we make to secure our future?
The expedition began with an exploration of students’ families and the significant role food plays in dictating cultural identity. The students worked with volunteers from 826DC to create their own recipes and stories. Students then examined today’s food sources and the journey from farm to table by visiting local farms in the DC area with support from DC Greens and OSSE’s Farm Field Trip grant. During the third and final component, students evaluated the impact individual and policy-level decisions have on the future of our world. After gaining an in-depth understanding of why our food system is broken, students discovered alternative paths that ensure healthy, sustainable, affordable food for all, and then presented them at the Food Justice Youth Summit.