“Jambo!” Corey is the son of a wonderful single mother and Malcolm X. He is committed to hard work and social justice. Corey graduated with a degree in Political Science from Illinois Wesleyan University. He is currently a community organizer in Detroit, Michigan for the Central Woodward/North End Collaborative which includes Central Detroit Christian, Vanguard CDC, Focus: Hope, The Family Place and Midtown Detroit, Inc. He organizes around issues of education, technology, housing, food security, business development, jobs, and skills sevelopment. Corey is a board member for the Storehouse of Hope food pantry and program manager for the U-SAVE! Community Food Club. He is also a poetry instructor, graphic/web designer and computer/network technician. His past, present and future goals are to make the world a better place for youth.
“Detroit, the city where schools fall apart and young activists against school closings are born. The motor city, where cars are jacked and youth enter juvenile dentition centers to reform. The home of youth, where parents are not at home and lined notebook paper listens to our children's words...I want to change our food system because I hate seeing food thrown away, when I know that people I see sleeping at gas stations haven’t eaten a good meal in days. I know this because of the look in their faces when I give them money instead of food. It baffles me how much food we throw in my family, food establishments, and the whole U.S. I want to find a way to correct this.”
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Aaron is a third generation Mexican-American farmer, returning to his small farming community near the Mexican border in McNeal, Arizona. Coming from this background has given him the privilege of living naturally and close to the land, as people should. His journey in life has strengthened his resolve that the best way to combat capitalism is to maintain our culture and traditions in our own communities. By learning from our ancestors and elders, Aaron plans to renew our connection with Mother Earth, which will provide us for generations to come. Collaborating with a oral history class on a project called “Renewing our Traditions”, Aaron will video-document oral food histories of people in his community and facilitate workshops and potlucks on the connections between food, immigration, and trade policies.
“The experience that would change my life forever was when I visited the Zapatista communities. I saw REAL people, being themselves in their everyday lives, just like those in my community. I knew right then that the revolution would come from common people like us. That is why I have returned back home to start the revolution where I can affect the greatest change.”
Old Hickory, Tennessee
Jason Patterson is currently working as the Youth and Outreach program Coordinator for the Community Food Advocates, planning and developing youth advocacy and obesity prevention campaigns. Jason also is the co-founder of People United for Sustainable Living, a volunteer organization aimed to promote self sustainability through agriculture. Born and raised in the inner-city of St. Louis, Missouri, Jason enrolled in Dillard University in 2005. Misplaced by the rapture of Hurricane Katrina, Jason settled in Nashville to attend Tennessee State University. While enrolled at TSU Jason joined a number of organizations, as well as founding Sankofa, an organization aimed to smooth the transition from high school to college for first generation college students. During the fellowship, Jason will work with youth and community members in Nashville’s food system and develop “"Down to Earth", a national community and backyard gardens project educating and empowering people to take back their health.
“Although the flood was bad and the lost of homes and lives was worse, the loss of control, independence and self reliance is the true disaster. After coming to that conclusion, I began to shift my dreams and aspirations. Success was no longer measured by the amount of money we have, but by the strength of the community, and it's people...As an African American male, the drive for social justice is an eternal war for equal rights. The battlefield that once took place in the streets is now taking place on Capitol Hill, and in the hearts and minds of the youth, regardless of color and religion. Social justice in the food system unifies all human beings.”
Kyoka was born and raised in Bessemer, Alabama. She believes each individual is in control of his or her life and well-being and that healthy living comes from healthy thinking and eating. She wants to bring awareness to our young adults about the short term and long term effects processed foods have on their bodies and mind, along with bringing awareness to the ills of anxiety. Kyoka is extremely excited about being a Fellow and finds such joy to be able to meet people who think and feel the same way that she does with regards to the wholeness of life. Kyoka will create a short documentary on her community about preventing illness through healthy eating, showcasing institutions like school cafeterias and prisons.
“We have every fast food restaurant imaginable all within a two to three block radius not to mention the numerous corner stores that accept EBT...I would like to see people become educated on the benefits on eating fresh and organic food and to also become aware of the chemicals that are placed in most store bought foods that result dis-eases of the body and the mind...Healthy living is not impossible. Knowing that just by eating fresh fruits and vegetables opens up a whole new side of yourself that you would have otherwise not known.”
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Marina Saenz Luna
Marina Saenz Luna is a Black Lipan Apache woman. A migrant kid's kid, she (and at least four generations of Campesinos y Migrantes) calls the borderlands along the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande River "home-home" and she is currently getting some roots down there, too (literally)! Over the last five years, she has been inspired, humbled and honored to partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to transform our food system by securing human rights for farmworkers and putting an end to modern-day slavery. She is also moved to be a part of the beautiful Movimiento de la Música Tradicional de Son Jarocho y Fandango. Her hope is to partner with fandangero comunidades to create space for a unique dialogue about the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food, nation-wide!
“There comes a point in time when our dignified rage is so overwhelming that we must act. I believe it's part of our survival nature. To say our current food system is unsustainable is an understatement! We must change our food system so that we, as a society, can survive. Period! I want to grow and develop as a fair food movement leader as well as bringing in and building up folks who are passionate about both farmworker and land struggles in the U.S.”
Vanessa Ryann Bourgeois
Vanessa is a professional cook who was raised in a small town in southern Ilinois. After graduating from high school, she migrated to Chicago spending eight years, first, studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then answering the call to culinary school at Kendall College. After several years of working at some of the finest farm to table restaurants in the city, Vanessa moved back to her hometown to pursue her goal of opening her own restaurant. She is currently actively involved in Olney’s fledgling farmer's market and cooking dinner for the community on Friday nights.
“I am a rural girl who left her home on the farm for an education in the city. During my senior year of college my family entered into a fight against Monsanto. My father works as a seed cleaner & had been blacklisted by the company. After college I entered culinary school...which focused on the local food movement. And then I realized, I left my hometown behind. They're stuck shopping at Walmart. They are the working poor with little access to organic foods. I made the decision to move home & begin our own food revolution in the agricultural heart of America. My city needs this change & I feel called to be the one who makes it happen.”
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Anthony Ciocco, an Este Mvskoke (Creek and Seminole), works within his tribal communities of Oklahoma and other Indigenous communities to promote traditional food systems. He advocates for the importance of food justice work as a “holistic basis for supporting our cultural, political and physical well-being”. With experience in the non-profit and academic realms as well as grass roots organizing, he has engaged in diverse strategies for growing “real food”. He promotes revitalizing traditional food systems as “impacting both our communities’ immediate needs to restore physical health and our long terms goals of sustaining and revitalizing our languages, knowledge, and traditional ways of life”. Anthony will facilitate community-led t-shirt and poster designs related to food justice in his and other indigenous communities and for the broader food movement.
“Changing the food system is important to me because it is one of the most fundamental changes we can effect…Besides being almost all-encompassing, food system work is probably the most ancient and most natural occupation. Rather then fighting against a myriad of ever increasing and infinitely complex social problems, food work refocuses our energy on the common solution.”
Courtney is the Great niece of the late Fannie Lou Hamer. She graduated from Continental Academy in 2006, and furthered her education at Ashford University, majoring in Psychology. She looks forward to furthering her education and working with more brilliant people as the days go by. Courtney works with a six-years-old organization called The Fannie Lou Hamer Center for Change, and it’s been a great experience for her. She’s been able to meet some great people and go to great places. Courtney uses digital storytelling as a way of organizing, helped start a coalition against corporal punishment, and filmed digital stories about obesity and its effect on youth and people in her community. She is interested in connecting food justice with criminal, economic, educational, and other forms of social justice needed in her community. Courtney just wants to make a change one step at a time and believes that’s what makes her life so great. When she looks at everything, she just knows that “We, Youth, are the Future” and that “we are going to be the back bone for the new generation that’s coming up. That’s why we need to keep on inspiring youth to make changes and organize”.
“I have been a community organizer for five years and the most important influences in my life are our youth. The reason for this is because our youth battle many difficulties in our community and our school system. Some struggles that I've overcome is learning that youth have voices as well as adults...We need change. Youth need our support, workshops, and knowledge. It's important to change our food system because youth are dying from diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, and breathing problems. With all of these issues they inspire me to organize around healthy eating, social justice, and making people very aware of all of the issues.”
Bronx, New York
Jesus has been working with the Global Action Project (G.A.P.), a non-profit organization devoted to the empowerment of youth minorities through media analysis and production of social justice media, since late 2008. In 2010 G.A.P offered him the opportunity to co-facilitate a media analysis workshop at the United States Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit. Upon accepting, Jesus soon learned that facilitation is a life long learning skill and discovered his love for facilitating workshops. Jesus is currently enrolled in two facilitation training programs. During the USSF, Jesus volunteered to work in a community garden in Detroit. The people of the garden spoke about neglect and “food deserts,” urban communities that have no access to healthy food. He soon learned that many of the volunteers were from NYC and were working on the same issue in the city. Jesus is an intern at Just Food, a non-profit organization that supports community gardens and a community-supported agriculture program in NYC. Jesus will video document youth working in NYC’s community gardens, exploring the connections between food justice, teenage motivation, and social action.
“The most rewarding experience from working with the community has been the relationships I have cultivated with people. The more people I meet the more I learn about my community and myself. I have come to understand that what keeps us together is a common consciousness of our struggle. Whatever the struggle, the only way to overcome is by learning from our experiences and working together with our common knowledge, our common unity and action.”