A summer internship program for exceptional teen artists

Program Description:

FOOD FIGHTERS is an art and community internship program that focused on food justice as it related to income inequality. Over the course of six weeks, teens completed volunteer internships at different food justice organizations in New York City, such as Drive Change, Mt. Sinai Health, and Harlem Grown. The students contributed a minimum of eight hours per week for the six weeks. The students also met weekly at CUE Art Foundation where they shared their experiences, heard from guest speakers (activists, artists, advocacy experts), and engaged in art projects that drew from the students’ volunteer and workshop experiences. The students traveled to the BK Farmyards, a student-led farm on the grounds of the School for Public Service in Brooklyn, and got a vegan cooking demo on affordable healthy food straight from the garden by Just Food. They also utilized the Civic Art Lab, a pop up community center in Bed Stuy as a studio for their artmaking. The program culminates in two art exhibitions: one focusing on food justice and installed at CUE in Manhattan, and another focusing on income inequality and installed at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. Students’ work hung alongside works by established artists who have creatively expressed interest in or dedication to these critical issues. Both exhibitions opened in August of 2015.

This year's program is developed, produced, and presented by With Food in Mind’s Teen Artists Raising Awareness (TARA) and the Artist Volunteer Center’s Student Artist Volunteer Experience (SAVE) Program. With Food in Mind is a nonprofit that develops art-based approaches to food education and food injustice, exploring the potential of visual art and artists to impart nutritional knowledge and to affect change in childhood obesity in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

The program was presented in Partnership with CUE Arts Foundation, and students were nominated by their art teachers and staff at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. 

Our weekly workshop program brought in the following speakers:

Tanya Fields, The BLK Projek

Katherine Gressel, curator of Sensing (In)Equality

Tour of BK Farmyards student-led farm and cooking demo by Just Food

Tattfoo Tan, Artist with a history of working with Food Justice

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan, Founder of Shore Soup



“One of the most important things I learned in this program is the importance of knowing where our food comes from and how it is handled. Knowing where our food comes from and making sure it is the best possible, leads to a healthy lifestyle and body. 

Another important thing I learned is that a person can make a difference even through the smallest action. For example, a person can create a piece of art that speaks on behalf of an issue, and the people who see this art can be inspired and become advocates. This creates movement that helps a community of people. A unified community is important for living.”

— Zharia George, 16

“I learned that everyone should have access to affordable fresh and healthy food. More people than I realized do not have this access.

I also learned that even though I am small and young I can still make a big difference. Everyone who wants to can make things better in whatever way they choose, whether it be through art, activism, education, work, or a combination.”

— Lauren Danielle Chiovetta, 16

“I learned that there are still people in this world who will make an effort to change every race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and gender, but there are also thousands upon thousands of people who refuse to turn a blind eye to this and to corruption in our society. Just knowing that people like this exist makes me believe that even difficult challenges, such as food injustice and income inequality, can and will be overcome.”

— Anaya Berry, 16

Subscribe to the AVC Newsletter to stay tuned for an open call early next year for the 2016 program! 
Ideal candidates:
- Between the ages of 16–18
- Motivated, engaged, excited
- Responsible and dependable
- Demonstrate interest in art-making

Student benefits include:
- Rare opportunities to go behind the scenes of leading food justice organizations in New York City.
- Almost 50 volunteer internship hours to help satisfy graduation requirements and boost college applications.
- Opportunities to hear from guest speakers presenting on themes ranging from food rescue to foraging to cooking. 
- Automatic inclusion in an art exhibition at a New York City cultural organization, and direct access to some of today's most exciting artists and activists.
- All workshops, including art materials and snacks, free of charge.


This program is funded in part by a generous grant from The Pollination Project to the Artist Volunteer Center, and by individual supporters of With Food in Mind.