Non-profit Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) is tackling food insecurity in New York through school-based hydroponic farming initiatives.
The innovate farming technique is used to grow plants without soil, and TFFJ has been training school kids in districts where access to food is limited to small local stores – areas referred to as food deserts – in how to utilise hydroponics. Which empowers school kids in these districts to take the issue of food insecurity into their own hands, as (TFFJ) helps them construct and run hydroponic farms inside their schools.
“We’ve found that 100% of students understand how nutritious food makes a positive difference in their health after completing the program, 95% feel they are a better leader and can advocate for food justice, and 76% share what they have learned with friends and family,” said Katherine Soll, TFFJ CEO and Founder. “We not only provide students with advanced solutions to the lack of affordable, fresh food in food desert communities. We also enable them to further connect with the concepts that we teach them through our daily curriculum and after-school programs.”
Recognising the impact being made by TFFJ, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week awarded it a $300,000 three-year grant to expand its school-based initiative.
“This funding will allow us to significantly expand our efforts to eliminate food insecurity and its direct negative impacts on health, by placing our next generation of leaders on the frontlines of this work,” said Soll.
In collaboration with the Queens South Borough Office of the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), TFFJ will use the funding to set up hydroponic farms at four Rockaway Peninsula school campuses.
“The Queens South NYCDOE Borough Office embraces a holistic approach in supporting schools, which is why we’ve advocated so strongly to expand TFFJ’s program in our community. We believe this four-site farm hub will help build a lasting foundation for increased food security and equity in the borough, and specifically on the Far Rockaway Peninsula, for years to come,” added Narine Bharat, the office’s Director of Operations.