This year, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute at CUNY SPH is partnering on a fellowship for formerly-incarcerated youth with an emphasis on social and food justice. The fellowship, which is offered each year by Drive Change, provides returning citizens with expert training and experience in the food service industry and empowers them with the agency to make decisions that affect their stability.
Imprisonment has lifelong consequences, and youth that have been incarcerated have a 70 percent chance of being rearrested within five years. They are also more likely than their peers to experience mental and physical health problems, difficulty finding employment and housing, and a lack of access to healthy food.
Through this program, twelve formerly-incarcerated Drive Change fellows will spend eight weeks meeting small businesses owners and discovering local points of fresh food access, defining food justice, and building skills tailored to the hospitality industry including social and emotional capacity, time management and communication.
Following the eight weeks of learning, the fellows will start a six-month internship at one of 11 partner restaurants to receive hands-on training. They will also plan and prepare for an Access + Awareness Day in June to create a community conversation on how food access contributes to an array of social justice issues. That day, the fellows will demonstrate their new culinary capacity by serving up a free and/ofr reduced-price menu from a Drive Change food truck that is based on produce from East Harlem farmers markets and urban farms.
“Through this program we foster a work-learning environment where young returning citizens can advocate for change and grow confidence, and develop concrete transferable skills for their futures,” said Drive Change co-founder Jordyn Lexton.