Rockaway Youth Task Force: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Alexina Cather, MPH

What they do: Rockaway Youth Task Force (RYTF) seeks to empower local youth through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities based on their four principles of advocacy, volunteer work, mentoring, and professional development. Through a partnership with GrowNYC, RYTF hosts weekly farm stands with food sourced local farmers, allowing them to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables to all Rockaway residents.

How they do it: RYTF builds power and creates youth-empowered solutions through coalitions, alliances and networks.  The organization provides numerous volunteer opportunities, political education and civic engagement opportunities to foster a sense of community amongst members and program participants.

Mission: “The mission of the Rockaway Youth Task Force is to empower youth in our local communities through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities. We seek to spark social change in the Rockaways through youth leadership, and provide opportunities for teenagers and young adults to become productive citizens of the Rockaways.”

Latest project/campaign: Their Far Rock the Vote campaign aims to register over 1,000 residents in Arverne. Through their #FarRocktheVote campaign, RYTF members will raise awareness and increase education on voter eligibility, local representation, and community issues. RYTF hopes to increase voter turnout in Arverne by 30 percent in the 2016 general election.

Major funding: Primarily grant funded

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Since 2011, RYTF has engaged hundreds of youth, ages 15 to 25, in community engagement projects, including voter registration drives, hosting communal Thanksgiving dinners, space heater drives, and creating a sustainable community garden.


Location: Far Rockaway, Queens

Core Programs:

  • Community Advocacy
  • Garden Education
  • Urban Agriculture

Number of staff: 4

Number of volunteers: 45

Areas served: Far Rockaway, Queens

Date started: 2011

Director: Milan Taylor, founder and CEO

Contact information:, (718) 868-0386

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