Working with youth has become a new focus for Field & Fork Network as we seek to strengthen the future of our food system. Our Fresh Food Fellows program is a multi-faceted educational and outreach program for youth and young-adults who want to learn more about the food system and their role in it. The youth program focuses on teaching the full spectrum of our food system from seed to waste. The interactive curriculum provides participants’ hands-on learning and exposure to various actors in the food chain including farmers, business owners and as consumers themselves. Our young-adults Fresh Food Fellows program focuses on training participants in food sales and marketing. Participants also get the opportunity to work in a business – mobile market – setting where they learn to highlight the bounty, diversity and strength of our regional food system. They also provide a tangible public health service to the community. By increasing access to fresh food they are on the front lines of promoting healthy lifestyles and food security. Youth that complete a Fresh Food Fellows course become accessible resources, energetic conduits of information, and a friendly reminder that fresh food is essential to everyday community life.
Field & Fork Network is a community partner for the 2017 MAPsCorp initiative in Niagara Falls. MAPSCorps works to train high school students as community data scientists. The youth are trained to apply the scientific method and use mobile technology to capture data about all the public-facing businesses and organizations serving their communities. MAPSCorps provides the first paid employment experience for half of the participating high school youth. As the community partner, the youth will experience the Fresh Food Fellows curriculum, which will help inform their research question, “What factors impact food choices made by people living in Niagara Falls?” The data and information the youth will be gathering will also be used to inform projects and policies for the Local Food Action Plan in Niagara Falls.