In an interview with the Clever Cookstr, a podcast devoted to discussing the various areas of the food industry, Joshua Serrano ’15 talks about how he is working to improve access to sustainable food sources in urban areas.
Serrano recently joined Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ), a youth-led social justice movement that trains youth to become urban farmers and works with them to build indoor hydroponic farms that yield more than 22,000 pounds of fresh produce annually in Title 1 schools in New York City.
In New York City, 16 percent of residents are in what are known as a “food desert,” an area with more than one million people who do not have access to healthy, sustainable food.
As the development and communications associate for TFFJ, Serrano has become involved with the peer mentorship aspect of the movement. “It’s important for students to be able to be guided and connect with folks who come from similar experiences that the students are having,” he said in the interview. “It’s important to get those people to be directly involved with guiding the youth through the program.”
Inspired by a sociology class he took during his first year, Serrano says that HWS was where he developed a passion for studying social, economic and racial justice. “It wasn’t long before studying the structure of social relationships, institutions and structures of power was my focus of study,” Serrano said.
During his undergraduate years, Serrano majored in public policy, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. through the HWS Center for Global Education. Upon graduating, Serrano continued at the Institute of Policy Studies as a research assistant on the Criminalization of Poverty Project, and became a New Economy Maryland Fellow.
In his interview, Serrano discussed the interesting methods he has developed to engage youth in the food justice movement.
“We did a food justice advocacy project through body movement and it was a step performance. We were able to take something fun and use it as a tool to get our voices out about food justice issues that were most important to the teens,” said Serrano. “The youth mentor component allows the program to really be focused on the experience of the students and allows us to find creative ways that we’re able to connect.”