Food Youth Initiative 2017-08-15T14:03:35+00:00


Food Youth Initiative

fyi-chartThe Food Youth Initiative (FYI) is a project housed at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) with support from a number of community partners.

The FYI Youth are a collective of youth representatives (high school, continuing GED and recent grads) and their youth organizers from groups across the state who are already working towards some aspect of food justice in their own communities. FYI youth envision and support the advancement of a just food system.

Food Youth Initiative works with the belief and knowledge that youth are already doing amazing work; they are not only future leaders but current change-makers. The FYI network is designed to build relationships across organizations that are already doing food justice organizing work in their own communities across North Carolina.

In addition to supporting youth through local trainings and capacity building throughout the year, FYI hosts a summer gathering for our core youth groups in an effort to:


  • Train the trainers, supporting youth in passing forward their justice, agriculture, and food system knowledge
  • Connect youth, build relationships, and break down the barriers of isolation that impacts especially youth living in rural areas
  • Amplify youth voices through tools that strengthen their advocacy efforts
  • Facilitate professional development and career goals related to food systems and social justice

Food Youth Initiative is also invested in connecting youth organizers and those dedicated to supporting youth to think through intergenerational design, knowing that youth need adults and adults need youth in making community change. We seek to form networks of youth and adults that empower young people and bring them to the table as respected co-creaters of justice work in food systems. Towards this end, we also host an annual adult caucus day to help support adults in their work with youth.

Core Youth Groups

Early development Partners

FYI was developed over a three year period, 2010-2012, with the support of many youth groups and organizations:

  • Interfaith Food Shuttle (Raleigh)
  • Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), Charlotte and Asheville
  • 4H
  • CORE (Charlotte)
  • Old Zion Wesleyan Food Ministry (Columbus County)

Food Youth Initiative News

Young Food Justice Leaders Speak Out

Young people gathered at one of the nation's most popular food justice leadership trainings talk about the change they want to see in their communities.

Puppets headline climate, food summit for youth

Under the partial cover of Center City Park’s wooden pavilion, youth performers steered colossal pole puppets — faceless gray suits symbolizing big oil, giant fists in shades of brown labeled “People power” and “El poder de la gente,” and vibrant flags representing wind, air and sun — but not before a proper introduction.

Youth Meet in Greensboro, NC, to Address Food Systems, Inequality

About 100 high school youth from community and out-of-school organizations gathered along with their adult allies in Greensboro, North Carolina, this past weekend for a conference on food systems and inequality. The local group hosting the conference was the Food Youth Initiative, a project of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ Food Youth Initiative Wins NC State University’s Opal Mann Green Engagement Award

August 9, 2016: For Immediate Release Media Contact: Tes Thraves, CEFS Youth and Community-Based Food Systems Coordinator, or 919-619-8897 Raleigh, NC:  The Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ Food Youth Initiative (FYI) has been awarded the [...]

Food as Community Change: North Carolina Youth are Local Food Heroes

During CEFS’ recent Farm to Fork Picnic Weekend, CEFS awarded its very first Local Food Heroes Awards. Reflecting the youth focus of this year’s Farm to Fork Picnic Weekend, honorees are all youth and their youth organizers who work in partnership with CEFS.