MAP Youth Help Out Clean Air Coalition

Hi, my name is Solamon Thang Ha and I am a youth worker at Massachusetts Ave Project. When we had a MAP Growing Green big group meeting, one of my bosses, Rebekah mentioned that I could sign up to work for the Clean Air Coalition for couple of hours. The next day, I went to the Clean Air Coalition’s office and discussed what I would be doing with them. They told me that we would be going to streets in the community and telling residents about what is going on in their neighborhood, which is the Department of Transportation’s proposal to spend $28.5 million on remodeling the Peace Bridge Plaza.

The Clean Air Coalition is a non-profit organization that wants the residents of Western New York to have better health. Their mission is to build power by developing grassroots leaders who organize their communities in order to run and win environmental justice and public health campaigns in Western New York.

We went to door to door throughout the neighborhood and told them what was going on, and the effects that the Peace Bridge Plaza Remodeling Project will bring to them, their families, and their neighbors. The project will increase the amount of trucks traveling in the area and increase air pollution. We gave the residents post cards that included our office address, contact information, and the possible negative effects of the Peace Bridge Plaza Remodeling Project on their neighborhood. After that, we asked them to attend a meeting we will be hosting in preparation for the big public meeting.

What I like about working with the Clean Air Coalition is that they are non-profit organization and they are helping communities around Western New York. What I like best about working with the Clean Air Coalition is letting the residents know what is going on in their community and about negatives effects that the Peace Bridge Plaza Remodeling Project will bring to them and their neighborhood. Working with the Clean Air Coalition and MAP is similar in many ways. Both of the organizations are non-profit and both of the organizations’ missions are about helping the residents in the community to have better health. Helping the community something I enjoy doing and both MAP and the Clean Air Coalition have allowed me the opportunity to do that. Everyone should be willing to step up and help their neighbors and community.

MAP Holiday Sales

By Orion Valentin

This past Saturday I went to Buffalo Seminary, which is an all girls’ school. Buffalo Seminary had an event where people came in and there were different tables with people selling a bunch of different things. Katie, Mariah, and I sold a lot of MAP products, like mugs, salsa, chili-starter, and t-shirts.  People especially liked the mugs and chili-starter. One couple even bought four mugs and a chili-starter!

We also had gift boxes there for sale. The gift boxes came in two options, one included a mug and chili-starter, and another had the mug and a salsa. We didn’t sell any gift boxes though, because people wanted either just a mug, just a chili-starter, or just a salsa. No one wanted the gift boxes that we pre-made.  We made the gift boxes three weeks ago at work, and are selling them now.

The thing I liked about the sale at Buffalo Seminary is how all the people I talked to were nice.  I learned about the people’s personalities and met a lot of people who like to buy and try new things. A lot of people bought our mugs. They said it was cute how the mugs could be used as a flower pot or a mug.

MAP Youth Futures Program

By Aweso Noor

This is the beginning of something great. In my opinion, sooner or later, MAP is going to breed many young gentlemen and gentlewomen. MAP’s youth employees are being offered a program that’ll ensure success.

Many will wonder what the MAP Youth Futures Program is. I’d respond with, the program is geared toward MAP youth, but I think it should accept anyone who wants to get involved in it.  It just started on December 4th and it’s meant to support youth post high school graduation.  It’s a great program for us to learn more about college and careers. Youth will get a feel of different majors, college life, and the college process through different guest speakers.

The MAP Youth Futures Program happens once a month during Growing Green’s big group meetings.  The program lasts for approximately 30 minutes.  Each month a new guest speaker is present to speak on behalf of the majors they studied in college and related to their work experience.

Last Wednesday was the first day, the program was kick-started with Candice Cooke who came to speak about her career as an Engineer at General Motors (GM) and being an engineering major in college.  Personally, I’ve taken a few things out of the talk she gave.  She went on to talk even further on her internships while in college, how her hard work as an intern led to her hiring at GM.

This program is in its young stage but I’m optimistic that it’s a great program with many benefits for everyone involved.

A word from the author: My name is Aweso Noor.  I’m a MAP youth employee currently working in the school year program.  I’ve been a part of MAP since the summer of 2013 and I’m looking forward to working in the 2014 summer program as well.  This school year will mark the end of my high school career at Canisius High School.  After the summer, I’m anxious to go on to college with the hope of playing college basketball.  A life full of new experiences, friends, and success awaits.  I just have to make it happen.  Let me end with one of my favorite quotes, “Success has been and continues to be defined as getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down”. - Unknown

Lexington Co-op Supports MAP

By Dabreon Darby

Lexington Cooperative Market has decided that MAP will be its 2013 recipient for donations. Lexington Co-op member owners will now have the choice of donating their dividends (their individual share of profits) to MAP. Last year, over $5,000 was donated to a different local organization from Lexington Co-op’s member-owner dividends. Hopefully this year owners can top that amount!

MAP is an urban agricultural non-profit organization that holds local farms, jobs for youth, and supports regional farms in the Western New York area.  Just as owners of the food co-op help their communities, we too help out our regional community and the local food industry by selling our products and produce. MAP is a great choice for the Lexington Co-op’s support!

Youth Assessment of Buffalo Area Food Stores

My name is Javert Boudreau, and I am a sophomore at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. During the summer of 2013, I participated in MAP’s summer youth program. During this time, we discussed the health of a local area based on where the food comes from. To study this properly we worked with the UB Food Lab.

The Food Lab split us into four groups to observe the types of food carried by stores and the condition of said stores. This was important because it showed that the healthier looking the food and the stores are, the healthier looking the community surrounding it is. It also helped us identify food deserts, or areas with high food insecurity.

The audits relate in a small way to MAP’s mission to get healthy food to the community. The audits tell us what sorts of foods local stores sell, what we should sell more of, and where we should sell it. This can bring more business to MAP from people looking to get cheap, healthy food, but are unable to due to high prices in super markets or just a lack of the foods themselves. This in turn makes the neighborhood around MAP healthier, and can, on a basic level, make it a stronger, nicer place to live.

Click here to see pictures from the audit.

Take Charge of School Meals! Join HKHC-YAC and your School Wellness Team!

On Wednesday, October 23rd, over 200 members of the Buffalo community came out for the 2nd Buffalo Food Policy Summit.  The Food Policy Summit opened at 5:00 PM with Just Lead, an event hosted by the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Youth Advisors Council (HKHC-YAC).  The Just Lead event focused on improving school meals in Buffalo and was MC’ed by a local farmer, Dan Oles. A variety of speakers were on the program including HKHC-YAC youth, a parent activist, and leaders from the Buffalo Public School district.  The speakers talked about how students, parents, and teachers can get involved in improving school meals through school wellness teams based at each Buffalo Public School (BPS).

Just Lead was a kick-off for school wellness teams in Buffalo meant to engage youth and community support for health and wellness initiatives in schools. Although any school (public,private,or charter) can benefit from having a school wellness team, each BPS school is mandated by the district to have a team. The school wellness teams will ensure there is a space for students, parents and teachers to get involved in implementing the district’s new Wellness Policy, making changes to things like school meals, and providing overall support for bringing about a healthier school community.

Using a facilitators guide developed by Action for Healthy Communities, HKHC-YAC will support student leaders to participate on their school wellness teams by identifying the needs of their school community and coming up with changes that are suitable for their school. The school wellness teams will not just work to improve school meals, instead each team will help develop an individual wellness plan for their school community through conducting a School Health Index. There may be support from local colleges and universities in conducting the School Health Index, and additionally, HKHC-YAC will support student leaders through a one day training and monthly meeting called Students Taking Charge (funding for a substitute will be provided to cover the faculty advisors absence). The date for the first Students Taking Charge training is scheduled for Thursday, November 21st, 2013.

Youth participating in HKHC-YAC are already recognized in Buffalo for their leadership on issues important to teenagers. This past Spring, HKHC-YAC members succeeded in securing two seats for youth on the newly formed Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County. Two years ago, the HKHC-YAC youth worked with NFTA to expand bus service for students at Tapestry Charter School and increase the flexibility of the bus passes to better serve the needs of students. This year, HKHC-YAC is concerned with improving school meals. In a Buffalo News article dated October 22, one of the HKHC-YAC youth leaders, Bernard Lamar Rice, is quoted about his concerns regarding the current school meal program and his vision for healthier school meals. Click here to read the article.

We hope that the Buffalo community students,parents, and faculty will continue to support the work of HKHC-YAC by signing up to become an active member of the initiative and their School Wellness Team. To sign up or for more information, please contact Rebekah Williams at Rebekah@mass-ave.org or by phone at (716) 882-5327.

School Lunch: Cheap, Yet Healthy?

Hello, my name is Serge Muharareni and I am a student at Hutch-Tech High School.  I am writing about the issue that most people, especially parents and teachers, should be concerned about, school lunches.

School lunches are based on a cheap budget, $2.86 per lunch, which is canceling out the importance of students to eat healthy.

When I first came to the U.S. from Senegal, I always ate the school lunches, but I never liked their appearance.  I used to think that it was because I wasn’t familiar with the food.  Four years later, the schools are serving the same kinds of food and it just hasn’t gotten any better.

It is a good thing that most of the lunches don’t have much sugar to ensure against diabetes, but the fat in the food isn’t any better.  The food seems weird to me most of the time and it doesn’t even taste right.  For example, some of the burgers they serve seem greasy and too oily.  More fruits and vegetables also need to be added.  By fruits I don’t just mean apples and grapes, I mean all of them, such as strawberries and pineapples.

Besides, what could a person eat for lunch with only $2?  School lunches need to improve and be based on the needs of the human body, not on how cheap they are.

Just Lead Event

By Dabreon Darby, @DabreonDarby

The Just Lead event which took place at the Burchfield Penny Art Center on Elmwood at 5pm last Wednesday was riveting. There was a presentation by Bernard Rice & Dillon Hill on school lunches in the Buffalo Public Schools. These two youth leaders voiced their opinions and their peer’s opinions on Buffalo Public School lunches in front of representatives from Buffalo's public schools, the Food Service Director Bridget O'Brien Wood, and advocates for healthier local food school lunches.

Then came the presentation by a long-time MAP and Western New York Community Supported Agriculture proponent, and leader farmer Dan Oles.  He was the Master of Ceremonies for the Just Lead event presenting on his opinions for fresh local grown food incorporated into the Buffalo Public School lunch systems.

Lastly came the perspective of the Buffalo Public Schools by Bridget O'Brien Wood.  Ms. O'Brien Wood is trying to work with the youth leaders and advocates for healthier school lunches by finding a common solution, but her job is much harder than that.  She's not an insensitive Buffalo leader who is ambiguous to policies, but she has to answer to people more powerful than her (the USDA) who puts restrictions and regulations on the school lunches which makes her job harder.  Her commitment to finding a solution to their problem is well-received and well-noted.

Memorable Info Tables

The American Dairy Association and Dairy Council was there, their yogurt and side options were delicious.
The Modern Corporation table was fascinating in it's description on it's business. For more info about Modern go to http://moderncorporation.com/.

The MAP table also had its fair share of visitors. When visitors answered a MAP questionnaire, they received a bottle of the famous Raspberry Apple Vinaigrette. There were also many other colleges and businesses there as well for more information please go to the websites below or emails:


2nd Buffalo Food Policy Summit on October 23rd and October 24th

"The Personal Is Political" - Carol Hanisch 1969

What's the Food Policy Summit all about?

Whether we like it or not, policies affect every area of our lives, even the food we eat.

Policies can make sure that our kids have fresh greens, lean meat and whole grains on their school cafeteria trays.  Policies can bar or encourage food trucks in a city or offer support to immigrants and refugees starting-up international restaurants in our communities.  Policies can also support small farms in connecting with more markets.  In short, policies can affect what goes on our plates and in to our stomachs!

That's why Massachusetts Avenue Project and our partners at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities - Buffalo Partnership are excited about the newly formed Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County.  We're so excited we are co-hosting a huge event that's going to take place over the next couple of days, and we're inviting you, the public, and policymakers to learn about the Food Policy Council and get involved to make changes to food policy that can really get our region eating healthier, more local, and therefore boosting our local economy.

Visit the website

The 2nd Buffalo Food Policy Summit features the following six events in two days:

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Thursday, October 24th, 2013
  • 8:15 AM - Policymaker Summit (Invitation-Only)
  • 2:00 PM - Food Systems Planning & Policy Training Workshop
  • 6:30 PM - “A Place at the Table” Screening & Panel Discussion
Visit the website

For more information about the 2nd Buffalo Food Policy Summit, visit the website at http://hkhcbuffalo.org/2nd-buffalo-food-policy-summit/.  We hope to see you there!