Youth Food Justice Taskforce Cinco De Mayo Community Dinner Night best yet

May 15, 2012

DETROIT – The Detroit Youth Food Justice Taskforce celebrated Cinco De Mayo on Friday, May 4 with their biggest and best Community Dinner Night event by drawing over 100 people to the Cass Corridor Commons for an evening of healthy food, food justice education, music, art and poetry.
“We had just over 100 people at the last one,” said DYFJT Coordinator Roger Boyd. “We had some good youth entertainment. Everybody had smiles on their faces. Everybody was laughing and having fun. There were a lot of families there. This was probably about the best one we've had so far.”
The Youth Food Justice Task Force Community Dinner Night events started in March and has doubled in attendance each time out. The events are held on the first Friday of each month and has gone from 25 at the first event to over 100 this month organizers.
The event was catered by People's Kitchen Detroit along with tradition hispanic dishes in honor of the Cinco de Mayo holiday. In addition to the food, community members at the event got call to action on the 2012 Farm Bill and other food justice related issues by Detroit Food Justice Taskforce Coordinator Charity Hicks. The Youth Food Justice Taskforce coordinating team of Boyd, Anthony Grimmett, Sanaa Nia Joy and Kadiri Senefer served as masters of ceremonies and delivered presentations.
The event also featured DJ Lajedi, who provided the music while artists like Honey Combe Bryce, Sage & Buddah J, Taneesha Fashion and Cyndi Anderson performed among others.
“Food Justice Friday was phenomenal. We had three times as many people. We actually had so many people we ran out of food,” said Nia Joy. “We had one of our partners from Detroit Future Youth, Young Nation, come in from Southwest Detroit and did graffiti art. They painted a small picture to be a part of a larger mural.
“We had the sound system going this time. The music was bumping. We had a good DJ.
We celebrated Cinco De Mayo, and acknowledged their contribution into our lives here in the United States. We had fajitas with a vegan option. We had palentas which are little Popsicles. We had rice coleches. Greens and spinach from Feedom Freedom. Radishes from Earth Works. We had a lot of local produce. Anything that was in season, we tried to get.”
Organizers say they are very encouraged by the growing popularity of the event and attribute it to good word of mouth from people who attended previous events, use of social networking outlets and the dedication of youth organizers like Boyd and Grimmett, who have been with the Youth Food Justice Taskforce since its inception last fall.
“It's beautiful to see everyone come together for this,” Grimmett said. “The community dinner undoubtedly has a family feel to it. For us to have only had three, I think we've gained huge prestige on the basis of quality and quantity. Anyone can come, enjoy themselves, network, dialog, and learn about many things food justice and in other areas.
“I feel as if the Youth Food Justice Task Force has something concrete to hold on to as motivation and as an outreach tool. I'm looking forward to the dinners having small youth led workshops/discussions in between to mobilize more people.”
Likewise Nia Joy said she would like to see greater youth involvement going forward. While there are challenges in that area, she feels like there is tremendous potential for a youth-led food justice movement in the city.
“I would like to have more young people there,” she said. “With the schools we work with, we have some transportation issues so we couldn't get them there this month but I would like to have more young people actually participating in the process.
“The goals is to create community. We want to create awareness of food justice and the people who are related to food justice via the Farm Bill, Cinco De Mayo and people having access to culturally appropriate foods and healthy foods. We want to touch on these things in a fun way, and we hope that more people will be involved in food justice actions. We'd also like to coordinate some actions for Metro Foodland which is the only African American grocery store in the state. Lila Cabil of the Food Justice Taskforce is supporting them. We are just hoping to get more people engaged and more aware of what they are eating. If people become more aware of what they are eating, then we can demand more healthy foods in the stores and the schools.”