Academy Award Winner Ariana DeBose Helps NYC Non-Profit Raise Over $900,000 to End Food Insecurity

Academy Award Winner Ariana DeBose Joins Forces with Teens for Food Justice to Combat Food Insecurity
Teens for Food Justice
Teens for Food JusticePMC / Paul Bruinooge

The Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) 2023 Gala took place at the Lighthouse at Pier 61, Chelsea Piers in New York City. The event aimed to commemorate the organization's 10th anniversary and provide support for its continuous initiatives in making fresh food easily available and enhancing nutritional health in low-income communities in New York City and Denver. These efforts are achieved through school-based hydroponic farming, led by the youth.

Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) runs large-scale hydroponic farms in six schools in New York City and one in Denver, Colorado. The students at TFFJ use modern science and technology to grow up to 10,000 pounds of hydroponic produce per school each year. This program allows the young farmers at TFFJ to address the issue of food insecurity, change their perspective on food, and acquire valuable STEM skills that are in demand in the emerging green industry.

Katherine Soll
Katherine SollPMC / Paul Bruinooge
Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez
Alyssa Gardner-VazquezPMC / Paul Bruinooge

The Gala featured artist and Emcee Ariana DeBose and celebrity chef Melba Wilson.  The Honorees at the 2023 Gala were Randy Stern (Teens for Food Justice Champion) and Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez (Distinguished TFFJ Alumna). The auction and fundraising was conducted by C K Swett.

Erich Bergen, Ariana DeBose
Erich Bergen, Ariana DeBosePMC / Paul Bruinooge

Students in STEM classes build hydroponic farms and cultivate crops. Each farm has the capacity to yield up to 10,000 pounds of fresh produce annually. One farmer from TFFJ emphasizes the importance of making healthy eating accessible to all. TFFJ aims to have 10 farms operating in 26 schools, providing food for approximately 13,000 students by the end of 2024. The 2023 Gala successfully raised nearly $950,000, with the final amount still being tallied.

Notable attendees included: Ariana DeBose, Melba Wilson, Randy Stern, Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez, Katherine Soll, Tara Swibel, Erich Bergen, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Alisha Antonetti, Sanniyah Watson, Namar Antoine.

Alisha Antonetti, Sanniyah Watson, Ariana DeBose, Namar Antoine
Alisha Antonetti, Sanniyah Watson, Ariana DeBose, Namar AntoinePMC / Paul Bruinooge
Nadja Sayej
Nadja SayejPMC / Paul Bruinooge
Katherine Soll, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers
Katherine Soll, Selvena N. Brooks-PowersPMC / Paul Bruinooge

For more information, please visit 

I: @ teensforfoodjustice | F: teensforfoodjustice | X / T: @tffjinitiative

Photo credits: PMC / Paul Bruinooge

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