Just Food Conference Serves It Up At Columbia In Harlem

By Lil Nickelson

On Sunday, March 13th, 2016 Just Food held its annual conference at Teachers College, on the campus of Columbia University at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy.  Just Food seeks to empower and support local community leaders in the food movement to increase access to locally grown food, especially in underserved NYC neighborhood.

With only eleven (11) employees, numerous volunteers and interns along with food businesses that are dedicated to promoting a holistic approach to food, hunger and agricultural issues, Just Food puts on two major events, this annual conference in March and its annual fundraiser in October.

Over 800 people attend Just Food’s annual conference in one day from 9 am to 6 pm and it’s really hard for its participants to decide which of the 39 workshops and 6 campaign action sessions to attend during the course of that one day.  This year two of Harlem World Magazine’s contributors, CC Minton our Wellness Editor and Lil Nickelson our Senior Food Editor developed a workshop titled “Healthy Living/Eating in Our Golden Years” that was included in the afternoon at this year’s conference.

The day began with a healthy breakfast followed by a one hour session titled “Food Talks” that featured the following four dynamic speakers as the morning keynote addresses:

Joan Dye Gussow, Just Food Co-Founder discussed her role of being “In From The Beginning.”

Sean Basinski, Director, Street Vendor Project discussed what street vendors have to do with food justice.

Khaleel Anderson, Senior Field Organizer, Rockaway Youth Task Force discussed mobilizing the youth in his community to improve its access to healthy food after Hurricane Sandy.

Leah Penniman, Co-Founder Soul Fire Farm discussed the intersection of two movements” black lives matter and food justice.

Contributor Lil Nickelson was able to attend a morning workshop titled “Breaking the Chains: Food as a Tool to End Mass Incarceration.”  The panel consisted of farmers and food entrepreneurs that are working within various models that intersect growing and producing food and individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated as well as their families.  Leah Penniman moderated the workshop and the panel members were:

Erika Rumbley, Co-Founder & Director, The New Garden Society in Boston

Jared Spafford, Culinary Arts Director, Drive Change

Jalal Sabur, Sweet Freedom Farm

Though their models differ, each have a similar goal in that they use the land as a way to broaden and transform the lives of current and/or former incarcerated people and their families.

Harlem World Editor Lil Nickelson and CC Minton hosted the workshop Healthy Eating in the Golden Years which showcased a panel of Harlem based insiders.  The presentation included restauranteur Chef Lance Knowling, BluJeen Restaurant,  Leticia “Skai” Young-Mohan  of LoLo’s Seafood Shack as well as Harlem YMCA Personal Trainer Donte Jones and healthy lifestyle enthusiast Sheryl Unsworth.  Chef Lance shared his expertise about the benefits of using spices for cooking traditional soul food meals with a twist that creates healthy recipes that are flavorful and tasty.  “Skai” spoke about the sauces and spices that can be used has a healthier alternative and shared some of the recipes from LoLol’s. Healthy lifestyle enthusiast Sheryl Unsworth shared her experience of growing up with her grandparents and learning about healthy food groups right from the backyard. Speaking about balance during the presentation, Trainer Donte demonstrated and shared the benefits of exercise and how it keeps you balanced during the golden years.

The day concluded with a presentation by the six female founders of Rise & Root Farms who were urban gardeners that decided to trade in their Metrocards to run a cooperative farm in upstate NY to increase the number of people eating and growing good food.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Cover Photo – Rudy Collins, Photo 2 – CC Minton, Photo 3 – CC Minton

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