This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Partnerships for Youth Food Security
The history of our company is directly correlated with the desire to address a social inequality that our Founder had first come upon while teaching SAT prep at a school in Harlem, New York City: youth facing food insecurity. Unfortunately, it’s easy to close one eye when we’re not looking for signs of food insecurity. But dig a little deeper, observe a little longer, listen a little more intently, and we’ll find that many youth are dealing with this issue day-in, day-out.
Defining “Social Enterprise”
As social enterprise consultant and lawyer, Nicole Motter, wrote, “Generally speaking, “social enterprise” means using business tools to address a social need. This concept may or may not overlap with “social innovation,” which means addressing a social need in a new, groundbreaking way. While it’s possible to use business tools without using them innovatively, and it’s possible to innovate without using business tools, the poster child for this sector works at the intersection of these two concepts.”
|"Generally speaking, “social enterprise” means using business tools to address a social need. This concept may or may not overlap with “social innovation,” which means addressing a social need in a new, groundbreaking way... [T]he poster child for this sector works at the intersection of these two concepts.”
Our innovative business tool: Transforming unrecoverable food byproducts into water-soluble organic hydroponic nutrients and grow substrates while eliminating landfill waste and greenhouse gases. By doing this, we move forward on our mission to help global agricultural communities reimagine localized food waste for more sustainable, environmentally-friendly growing practices. These communities are not just limited to adults, but often times, it’s the youth that will carry the baton onwards and upwards.
The social need our business tool is addressing: Albeit in an indirect way, we’re hoping to make healthy food accessible for all. By creating a cost-competitive and regenerative option to synthetic mineral salts, we will penetrate the food industry to ensure that those youth are eating good food, thus affecting their everyday performance and wellbeing. For us to truly embody what we claim to be, a “for-profit social enterprise”, we knew that creating a pipeline of talent and spreading knowledge was an important way forward.
|"For us to truly embody what we claim to be, a “for-profit social enterprise”, we knew that creating a pipeline of talent and spreading knowledge was an important way forward."
Knowledge is Power
When we decided to partner with two organization, Teens Food for Justice and NewLab, here in New York City that would allow us to help youth achieve food security, it was a no-brainer. Teens for Food Justice is catalyzing a youth-led movement to end food insecurity in one generation through high-capacity, school-based hydroponic farming, while NewLab is home to over 800 entrepreneurs, engineers, and inventors, solving the world’s biggest challenges, including those that are about social entrepreneurship. We decided that with these partners, two areas in particular would be our focal point:
- Curriculum development for classes or courses related to agriculture and indoor growing systems, as well as
- Mentorship opportunities where they can learn in real-time and explore a possible career path in this industry
In Part 2 of our two-part series on Partnerships for Youth Food Security, we’ll deep dive on their mission critical work and identify the focal points above (curriculum development and mentorship) as our contribution towards this mission.
By Riyana Razalee