Video: Foodwise Teens: Building Confidence & Community

December 24, 2021

Amidst the challenges and uncertainty of the pandemic, CUESA’s Foodwise Teens program has been a source of hope and empowerment for students in our community. When you donate to CUESA, you provide opportunities for Bay Area youth to grow, thrive, and take part in creating a sustainable and resilient food future.

This month, we are shining a light on people who nourish our community and help sustain this vision. In this new video from CUESA, youth leaders in Foodwise Teens, a paid job training program where students build skills to sustain healthy lives and a healthy planet, share how they have cultivated confidence and community together.

“Participating in Foodwise Teens during the pandemic gave me something to look forward to every week,” says Foodwise Teen Devin Lee. “In the program, I have grown my people skills. I used to be very shy and now I can talk to a bunch more people, feeling way more comfortable.”

When schools closed due to the pandemic, CUESA radically adapted the semester-long Foodwise Teens program for hybrid distance learning. Students grew food at home, cooked with their families, and participated in outdoor work days at the farmers market with their peers. An antidote to Zoom fatigue and isolation, the program offered a nurturing space for students to engage with nature and community outside of a screen, while learning important life skills.

“We received a lot of feedback from students, feeling that their regular classes felt like a podcast,” says Education Manager Flor Revolorio. “Foodwise was different because they could see their peers, they could engage with them, they could engage with material.” More than 80 students from three SFUSD high schools participated in Foodwise Teens in 2021. 

While Foodwise Teens learn about food justice, sustainability, and growing their own food, they also get job experiences at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market working directly with farmers and market visitors, all while getting paid for the work.

Students graduate from the program reporting increased self-confidence and deepened awareness of the food system and their agency within it. “I didn’t know anything about growing my own food,” Foodwise Teen Erika Torres shares. “I feel very empowered because I know where my food is coming from, I know how to grow it, I know what went into it.” 

These experiences can transform students’ lives forever as they envision a healthier and more hopeful future. Erika continues, “Learning how to grow your own food, it’s basically like learning how to read and write. It’s something nobody will ever take away from you.”

Empower Students with Critical Food and Life Skills

Help CUESA provide experiential education opportunities for youth to connect with food, nature, and community, and develop skills to last a lifetime. We are $16,413  away from our December 31 goal of $50,000 to support programs like Foodwise Teens. Donate today to nurture future food leaders in 2022 and beyond.

Video by Fox Nakai.

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