Teens for Food Justice: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Alexina Cather, MPH

What they do: Teens for Food Justice addresses one of NYC’s most critical challenges: getting nutritious food and health resources to those most in need. Sixteen percent of New Yorkers are food insecure and undernourished; 1 in 4 children live in households lacking sufficient food. And, even when healthy choices are available, they are often underutilized due to lack of familiarity with how to shop for and prepare the food.

How they do it: Our unique after-school program trains youth, ages 12 to 18, to build and maintain indoor hydroponic farms that serve as local sources for fresh food and centers for nutrition and health education in their schools and communities. Students use cutting-edge hydroponic technology to grow substantial quantities of crops for their school, families, and neighbors. They are trained to become health and nutrition ambassadors who teach skills for healthy eating, shopping, cooking, fitness and lifestyle behaviors to others. Through their own, their peers’, their families’ and their neighbors’ involvement, these young leaders will be the catalysts for a grassroots food justice movement in their community.

Mission: Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) is galvanizing a youth-led food justice movement! TFFJ works in Title 1 schools to train youth to build and maintain indoor hydroponic farms that serve as local sources for fresh food, growing more than 22,000 lbs. of fresh produce annually at each location. These farms also serve as youth-led centers for nutrition and health outreach to local food insecure communities.

Latest project/campaign: Urban Assembly Unison School, DeWitt Clinton High School (project in development), Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus (project in development)

Major Funding: The Smith Family, The American Heart Association

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit 

Annual budget:  $774,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Students are trained in cutting-edge, alternative agricultural technologies on a commercial scale that prepare them for jobs and leadership positions in a burgeoning, sustainable green collar urban food sector.



106 West 32nd Street Suite 164

NY, NY, 10001

Core Programs:

  • Advocacy Training
  • Hydroponic Farming
  • Fresh Food
  • Improved Nutrition
  • Community Health

Number of staff: Six

Number of volunteers: 15

  • Bronx
  • Brooklyn
  • Manhattan

Date started: 2013

Director: Katherine Soll

Contact information: (929) 241-1029; info@teensforfoodjustice.org

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