Our energized name speaks to our mission as a youth empowerment and food justice organization. FoodWhat partners with low-income and struggling youth across Santa Cruz County to grow, cook, eat, and distribute healthy, sustainably raised food, and address local food justice issues. FoodWhat creates a safe space where youth experience profound personal growth and transformation, radical diet change, critical job training, and step into relevant activism.
The Big Idea:
In 2018, FoodWhat youth (countywide low-income teens) will step into leadership positions, restoring or growing 14 school and community gardens by doing BLASTS! These projects result in acquisition of key job skills while participants earn a meaningful salary, a feeling of pride in supporting children and elders, and the renovation or expansion of gardens to fully functional and vibrant spaces for community food production, or learning for the coming school year.
FoodWhat youth will respond to a flood of requests by countywide elementary schools with gardens and South County community gardens to do these BLASTS, descending on different sites each week to bust out major projects: weeding, rebuilding beds, setting irrigation systems, renovating old greenhouses, breaking new ground, etc.
Community gardens are often tended to by elders looking for extra support, and school gardens hit a peak during summer break without student or staff present, so students often return to a discouraging, unusable space. FoodWhat youth will come in to aid the elders or transform these weedy school gardens into incredibly inspiring garden spaces and educational sites for the upcoming year. FoodWhat youth may have attended or have younger siblings in these schools, making their efforts even richer, while providing needed, highly impactful community service.
I have learned that you can eat healthy and that it can still taste good. I’ve learned to control my cussing and to be more confident. I’m smarter. I move in a different way now. I feel proud of myself. I don’t react all aggressively anymore to the slightest things that bother me. I believe that not everything deserves a reaction. I have gratitude for everything. I feel more responsible, confident, smarter. I actually care about my health now.
Rosa L., Watsonville, Age 18