“Food, What?!” is a youth empowerment and food justice organization. At FoodWhat, youth cultivate their well-being, liberation and power by engaging in relationships with land, food and each other.
Youth from Watsonville to Santa Cruz join the FoodWhat Crew through our Spring Internship, Summer Job Training and Fall Project Management programs. Within the supportive space of FoodWhat, youth grow, cook, eat and distribute farm-fresh, organic food while addressing local food justice issues.
In our project, FoodWhat youth gain real-life work experience by running a “prescriptive” farm stand in partnership with Salud para la Gente and Lakeside Organic Gardens. Salud health care providers prescribe patients with diabetes a voucher to the youth-run farm stand stationed right outside the clinic.
Some of the produce at the stand is grown and harvested by FoodWhat youth and some is donated by our partner farm. At the farm stand, clients choose from an abundant selection that includes rainbow carrots, broccoli, chard, cucumbers, cauliflower, peppers, and tomatoes.
We cannot overstate the importance of this aspect: Local youth combine training with their lived experience to address needs in their own neighborhoods.
The new project increases FoodWhat’s distribution by over 2,000 pounds to those with the highest need, and is an opportunity for youth to support patients as they build strong habits around accessing healthy food, integrate this food into their family’s diets, and create a community space at the intersection of youth power and community health.
My mom would cook with the squash from the veggies I’d bring home. She’d make caldo or spaghetti with all of the vegetables. Something similar to chow mein. That’s the only way my little sisters could eat vegetables. One is 10, and the other is 12. They don’t like vegetables at all. My mom doesn’t always have the time to go to the store and bring vegetables home. She isn’t the type to bring broccoli, kale, or spinach or stuff like that, but when I’d bring them, she’d make smoothies and things. Bringing those home, that really made a difference. My mom goes to the store now and she’ll get things to make juices and stuff like that.
Yvonne, Santa Cruz