MAP Staff participate and lead in local Justice & Ecology Retreat

walking on the hillThis September, Rebekah, Claire, and Katie joined a cohort of 30 local leaders from Buffalo’s Crossroads Collective for a 3-day Justice & Ecology Retreat with trainers from Movement Generation (MG), a national organization based in the Bay Area, California.
Held at the Rochester Folk Art Guild, an intentional community and craft center located on a 350-acre farm in the Finger Lakes, participants were truly able to retreat from their day-to-day responsibilities in Buffalo.
mateo teaching imageThe retreat focused on nurturing our region's ecological justice movement by exploring connections between ecological, economic, and social crises.  Movement Generation and Crossroads Collective trainers encouraged an exploration of the Just Transition framework through interactive and popular education lessons, and dialogue.
In addition to the participation of several MAP staff as trainees, our organization's Youth Education Director Rebekah Williams, partnered with MG staff to co-facilitate some of the lessons and helped develop the relationship with the Folk Art Guild.
The Crossroads Collective hopes that through the retreat experience, its members can bring knowledge about the Just Transition framework to more people and organizations in Buffalo.
To learn more about the Crossroads Collective, visit Facebook here.

Meet Gabby!

My name is Gabriela but I like being called Gabby. My favorite color is red and I like playing sports. I also like being indoors and I help my family in any way I can. I have 2 brothers on my mom’s side and 3 sisters on my dad’s side. My parents are not together anymore. I live with my mom and one of my brothers. I am only 14 years old and I don’t like school as much as animals. I have two best friends, Lizzy and Daniella. I like art but I haven’t been doing it as much. I’ve been lazy lately. I love cookouts. I also like being in my room (when it’s clean) and listening to music. I love having movie nights with snacks with my family and I love going to the mall.

Gabe returns to MAP!

By Gabe C

I am a 16 year old youth working at MAP. I will be attending I-Prep as a junior this coming school year. Other organizations I am involved in include HYPE – Healthy Youth Positive Energy – a district wide youth group that addresses issues students face. I am the current acting president in this group. I am also currently an intern at the Albright-Knox where I work with the public art initiative. My accolades include winning the West Side Community Services Award, being able to skate board and crying only three times a week on average. My hobbies include making good memories with friends, listening to good music, skateboarding and being unable to end paragraphs.

Lucy returns as a Citizenship and Organizing specialist!

My name is Lucy. I consider myself to be a Chinese-born American activist and writer. I am currently 17 years old, born on April 6th at the turn of the century. I am a centennial (and we are better than millennials).

This is my second summer working at MAP. I joined Rebekah Williams and other youth employees on various trips during the 2016-2017 school year, including Common Bound, NESAWG, and the follow-up trip to NYC.

I am a writer and I love being able to create worlds and breathe life into them because writing stories is like doing magic. It’s exhilarating, liberating, and makes me think about my social values. In the same way, I love reading, love diving into someone else’s world and letting it take me for a ride. I plan to read all nine school books this summer.

In addition, I have a passion for science. I haven’t decided my major yet, but I do know I want to study science. Currently, my top choices are environmental science, marine biology, and behavioral neuroscience.

So far I’m enjoying being a Citizenship and Organizing specialist. While I am still hoping to have a chance to volunteer at the farm, I’m looking forward to exploring what C&O has to offer.

MAP Youth visit BPS commisary

We took a tour to BPS commissary where they make all the school lunches and we learn how they make it and transport it. I thought it was fun going there!
~Eddi S
Some things I learned was how the school lunches are made. My favorite part was when we went inside the fridge and how they packed the food so fast. We had a talk about how many schools they give food to.
~Harriette H
Today’s trip was very interesting because I saw where my food came from. I always wondered if my school itself made the food from scratch but it turns out they just heat the food that’s delivered to them. It was also informative.
~Win T

We went on a trip to the BPS food commissary and we learned about the food production that’s being packaged (food that was cooked to the right temperature/ food put to a cold temperature). Ms. O’Brien-Wood said that 29 thousand meals are prepackaged!
~Aidan M
Today we went on a field trip to the BPS food commissary. We saw how they make the food. We were walking around and we saw a lot of food packagers, they work so hard! There is a big big oven and they gave us food for breakfast/lunch. 78% have free lunch in the city of Buffalo.
Today we went to the place where meals for the Buffalo Public Schools are made. I realized that there are a lot different aspects that the director has to pay attention to such as deliveries, temperature of the food, and safety measures which can make it harder to manage cosmetic things, like taste and appearance. I think when individuals complain about the quality of the food, they should consider the other labor one has to go through to provide fresh and nutritious food for them.
~Aking M

Today we saw how the food was packaged. We also learned where the food goes and how they get to the school. They all take about a day to get made and they get shipped out the same day.
~Yeishalie R
Something that I learned today was that almost all of the food that the BPS in Buffalo have, Bridget controls what we have on our menu. Some of the workers at the place don’t have degrees. They have different rooms for different foods depending on the temperature. The workers have to make sure that the food is at a frozen stage in order to pack up and ship to the schools.

Win Returns!

By Win T

Hi everyone, I’m 15 years old. I am about to be sophomore at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. I am Burmese and Karen, so I am tri-lingual if you include English. In my free time I like to watch TC and sit outside. My favorite food is friend shrimp because I love seafood. I also love, love, love fruits. They taste absolutely amazing and are healthy. I like working at MAP because it gives me the opportunity to make my community a better place.

Meet Kayla!

By Kayla M

My name is Kayla. I like to be independent. Making my own money is very important to me because one day I’m gonna buy my way our of the hood. I come from the east side of Buffalo, and now I’m living on the west side. Math is also important to me because I would like to go to college for a business degree in finance and management. In my free time I listen to music or sleep. My favorite food is chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard or barbeque sauce. The best part of working at MAP is meeting new people. For the remainder of the summer I will be in Philly.

Meet Puja!

Hello, my name is Puja. I am from Nepal. I am 16 years old. I have my mom and brother. In my free time I like to watch Hindi drama and talking with my mom. My favorite food is salad and momo. I like to eat salad and momo because it’s for your health. I like to work at MAP because It’s dun and I learned more about plants, foods and fruits. My plans for this summer is working at MAP and spending time with my coworkers and friends.

MAP Youth visit Blue Hill Farm and Native Offerings

The dairy farm field trip was interesting. We saw different series of cows and how the milk are taken from the cow and stored in a big container. We also went to the farm where vegetables and crops were grown, such as cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. We learned about about how the food gets from the farm to the city!
~Peter M

We went to native offerings and learned about produce and looked at their farmland and saw what they were growing. We learned about how they grew everything.
Blue Hill was really fun. We saw cows and a really really cute farm cat. The baby cows were really cute and we learned about how we managed the cows.
~Frances W

When the MAP youth visited Blue Hill dairy farm, I know I enjoyed myself immensely. We took a tour of the farmlands, saw cows, petted cows, and met an awesome barn cat. It was radical, and it took all my effort to not steal the cat.
~Gabriel C

So last week we went to a farm and I learned how the yogurt and cheese is made and how they collect the fruit and vegetable. I found out that cows on a farm are cool to have.
~Daniel S

Meet Daniel!

Hi there, my name is Daniel, and I am 16 years old. I was born on August 4th. My original language is Spanish. My family is incredible. I have my mother, father, stepfather, stepmother, 5 brothers and 3 sisters. What I like to do in my free time is play basketball, ride my bike, eat, sleep and play video games. My favorite foods are pizza and tacos. I like them because they are really goof and easy to make. The best part about working at MAP is meeting so many good people that let me be their friend. I also like the games that we play. This work makes me feel like I am at home and I can be myself around people. My plans for the rest of the summer are to ride my bike and go see my sister’s soccer practice. I really like the sport!

Meet Angelica!

My name is Angelica. I have two younger sisters and one older brother. I just turned 16. What I like to do in my free time is sleep. My favorite hobbies are eating and sleeping. I also like cleaning and organizing when I’m stressed. I was born in Chicago, and raised in Puerto Rico. I’m known for my crazy curls and dimples (that are now fading) and almost always doing my eyeliner.

Meet Harriette!

By Harriette

I come from Puerto Rico. I have 1 older brother and 1 younger sister. In my free time I like to sleep and play volleyball. My favorite food is pizza. The best part about MAP is when we play games and get paid. For the rest of the summer I’m planning to do good at MAP.

Meet Myo!

My name is Myo, The three major parts of my identity is my humor, the sports I play and my education. These are important because they identify me. I play soccer because it was the sport I grew up with and it is fun. My education is important because it identifies our knowledge and what we do. My humor is really important because it identifies who I am as a person. My favorite food is Thai food. I like it because it tastes really good to me. The best part of working at MAP are the people in here. MAP is fun and we work well together.

Checking in with Ingabire!

By Ingabire A

I am 16 years old and am a junior at Emerson School of Hospitality. I was born in Congo and because of war my parents moved to Kenya where I spent most of my childhood. It’s now my third year in the USA. I started working at MAP in the beginning of the summer of 2015. MAP has influenced me in a lot of ways. I learned farming, being an activist and ho to communicate with people. I have made friends through MAP and went to places like NYC, Connecticut and Washington DC.

I want to graduate high school and go to a college of my choice. I want to dorm for college. I love clothes, which lead me to be interested in fashion. I want to be a blogger and a journalist and a model. I want to be able to travel one day around the whole world.

Harvesting peppers and onions

How to harvest green beans

By Pepper, Daniel and Yeishalie

Checking in with Birch

Birch K

Hi my name is Birch! I am 16 years old and I have been working at MAP since the summer of 2015. I go to City Honors. I spend most of my time photographing, hanging with friends, and listening to NPR. Choosing a favorite food stresses me out so… we not gonna go there. The Very Best part of working for MAP are the trips we go on. Whenever we go somewhere I meet incredible people. I’m excited to work in the kitchen all summer and expand my skills.

Meet Aking!

Aking M

Three major parts of my identity are music, peace and creativity. They are important to me because without music I would have no peace, and if I have no peace my mind cannot think creatively. Each respect of my personality has its role in balancing my life. In my free time I like to play the guitar or play basketball. My favorite food is mac n’ cheese. I like it because it’s so cheesy and warm and gooey. The best part about working at MAP so far is the games and the farm tour when we indulged in cherries. My plans for the summer and fall are working, publishing my book and getting out of high school.

Meet Nina!

Nina A

My name is Nina. I was born in April. I’m going to be a freshman next year. I live with 8 people – 4 sisters, 2 brothers and my parents. They are crazy, but I don’t even care. I was born in Congo with my other siblings. We came to the United States in 2013. I started working at MAP this year. I’m really interested in people who need help, like sick people. When I grow up I want to be a doctor and travel all around the world helping people.

Checking in with Maire!

By Maire E

I have just graduated from Leonardo Da Vinci high school. Three major parts of my identity are my friends, family and my passions. These are important to me because they have made me the person I am today. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my friends, family, riding my bike and sleeping. I don’t have a lot of free time because I have two jobs.  My favorite food is sushi because it’s just really good. The best part so far about working at MAP would have to be all the opportunities to do things such as the Climate March in Washington DC and all the people I’ve met. My plans for the rest of the summer are to work, go to concerts and go camping. Then, once fall comes I’m going to college and SUNY ESF and will be majoring in conservation biology.

In the garden - summer 2017

We have had an abundance of rain in western New York and very few hot sunny days. These conditions, combined with the mild winter means insect populations have been high all season. Our biggest vegetable predator this year has been flea beetles. In past years these tiny black beetles have been a mild inconvenience to the appearance to our brassica crops (cabbage, kale, radish, and arugula to name a few). However, this year any brassicas without protect from row cover are nibbled quickly to death by the beetles. One of our garden beds is permanently covered with hoops and spun bonded row cover to keep the flea beetles off our arugula and tender asian greens. 

This week's menu: Feast of Olympus

This week the first summer fruits were ready to harvest from the youth garden. Long yellow peppers, green beans, arugula and fresh basil were all harvested for our weekly summer lunch. These fresh vegetables steered our menu to a Mediterranean and Greek god theme.

 Zeus’s Thunder Chicken Gyros 

Dakota as the main chef behind this delectable dish. She chopped chicken breasts into small pieces and marinaded them in oil, paprika with garlic and oregano from the garden. After a few hours she salted the chicken in a hot pan with oil. The chicken was served with Tzatziki sauce made with dill and cucumber from the youth garden. 

Hermes Hummus 

Hummus was a second protein option so vegetarians, vegans and hummus lovers could have a balanced meal.


Baking is a tricky and difficult task, especially during the middle of July. Maire and Thant took on the challenge. They followed this recipe and made pita bread from scratch to eat with hummus or Tzatiki.

Gaia’s green beans

Gaia is the mother of all Earth. We named our green bean dish after her because bean plants give nitrogen back to the Earth, which helps future plants grow. We sautéed our beans grown in the garden with olive oil, garlic and green onions.

Apollo's Dressing

This week our salad was composed of green and red lettuce, spicy arugula and the last peas of the season. It was dressed with a tangy, summery lemon based dressing.

Athena's Cake

To finished the meal we had lemon and them cake with blueberries. Baker Birch took the lead on this creation. She was careful not to over mix the delicate batter. Once the cakes were cooled, she drenched them in a lemon juice and sugar glaze that tasted just like lemonade.

This week's menu: Viva la Revolution!

Louis XVI’s Chicken or Marie Antoinette’s Tofu Stir Fry

Made with garlic and chilies from the youth garden.

Garden at Versailles

Made with lettuce, peas and swiss chard from the youth garden.

Declaration of the Rice of Man and of the Citizen

Made with chilis, cilantro and garlic from the Youth Garden.

Salad with a National Assembly of Dressing

Made with Tokyo Bekana from the Youth Garden.

Sacrebleu-berry Delight

Our second summer lunch this year happened to fall on Bastille Day. The vegetables available from our Youth Garden didn't lend themselves to creating a meal based on French cuisine, so we named each dish after a part of the French Revolution.

What consitutes a good meal?

By Girard M

What constitutes a good meal? It may entail fresh veggies arranged around a piece of mouthwatering rib-eye with some roasted potatoes on the side, or maybe you’d simply prefer a sandwich. Whatever your ideal meal is, imagine having healthy food that clearly displays where it is grown, gives intimate details about how it is grown, how the food workers are treated, and how it’s benefitting the local economy. This vision is not so far out of reach, and is on its way to becoming a fantastic reality for multiple cities around the USA.

The LA Food Council spear headed this new food system initiative and it’s called the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP). There are several up and coming food programs in the US, but the GFPP is the most comprehensive of them all because it has five core values that it abides by.

Those five values are: (1) supporting local economy, (2) environmental sustainability, (3) nutrition, (4) animal welfare, and (5) a valued workforce.

It seems nearly impossible to say “No” to something as great as the GFPP. What really needs to happen is that community organizations, volunteer groups, the public, students, institutions, politicians, and other activist groups must ban together in order to give their full support for the Good Food Purchasing Program’s implementation into institutions within Buffalo.

The institution that is most thought of when discussing the GFPP is Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) because that is where there would be the greatest impact. Sometimes students will go to school without eating breakfast, due to family income or because they may live in a “food desert.” BPS has a free breakfast and lunch program, but from what I have heard the food could be healthier.

The GFPP wants to change how major institutions obtain their food, and it is a realistic and timely goal if enough people get involved. The public and major institutions have the purchasing power to reshape the food system that we all have grown to know, but not so much love.

Stakeholder Document for GFPP

By Acour D

The health and well being of youth in school is crucial to their progress as students and soon, contributive members of society. If we in Buffalo hope to excel and play a role in shaping the formation of this country, it all starts in our schools and what we put into the bodies of our students; in terms of both knowledge and food.

The Good Food Purchasing Program seeks to improve the overall nutrition options within the Buffalo Public School systems. It’s core values and mission are: improving the value of the workforce in food systems, the welfare of animals used for food, nutritional options, building a sustainable environment, and the local economy.

The first step is to let people know that such an option exists. That’s why we think it’s important that all Buffalo news stations and outlets broadcast and share this info to their communities. If we, the people, parents, students are not aware that such an opportunity exists, we are doomed to repeat the cycle that continuously produces tired, malnourished, disengaged students.

What we have right now isn’t working in the best interests of all students and families. If we wish to see change, then we must ourselves become that agent of change.

Improving student's health through food

By Neena H

After close examination of the overall health and well being of students in the Buffalo Public Schools, it is evident that theirs a need for change. Students having low test scores, lack of motivation and trouble focusing have all been the result of poor nutrition. At home some children aren’t getting the necessary nutrients they need to thrive at school and because of this are falling short. To combat this issue and issues of food security The Good Food Purchasing Program has provided schools with fresh local produce and new and improved menus. The GFPP first started in LA but has made its way to various cities and now we hope to adopted in here in Buffalo. The GFPP tackles issues in the food system through five areas:
  1. local economies
  2. environmental sustainability 
  3. valid work force 
  4. animal welfare and 
  5. nutrition
By bringing this organization to Buffalo we intend to improve not only the health of the students but the health of the community. Please come join us in having an impact on these kids lives.

Advocating for the GFPP in Buffalo

By Peter R

Studies show that a nutritious diet during the school day can lead to increased focus and performance in class. The current food climate within the Buffalo Public Schools does not provide the necessary nutrition, nor encourages healthy eating. As a former BPS student, I know first-hand the unappetizing, not-so-fresh fruits and vegetables we were served to meet health requirements.

There is a current initiative in the Buffalo Public Schools called the Buffalo Farm to School initiative, which sources local fresh vegetables in lunched. While this is a step in the right direction, the initiative does not go far enough. A recently developed program, call the Good Food Purchasing Program, is a comprehensive plan to create an entirely new food atmosphere in schools across the country.

The GFPP is slightly more expensive than the current food budget, but the program helps in this regard by subsidizing the first few years of the program (to ease the transition), and having a team available to help further look at finding a better financial plan. In addition, the long-term effects of implementing the GFPP could lead to reduced costs in other areas such as school health and extra academic help programs.

With all of this in consideration, I believe that the GFPP could reshape the Buffalo Public Schools food system for the better.

Dillon returns to MAP as a team leader this summer!

My name is Dillon Hill; I have worked at MAP since I was fourteen. I am twenty now and I go to Buffalo State College. I have been working at MAP for some time now and I believe that I have been here longer than everyone except Diane. I personally believe I am a poor writer and that I work much better with my hands. I also think I am a quieter person, who will listen and share my input where I see fit. I enjoy working at MAP because I meet new people, who share with me new ideas, food, and interests. Working here at MAP has allowed me to develop my work skills, my people skills, my personality, and my interests.

Meet Acour, our Farm to Table Coordinator this summer!

My name is Acour. I am 20 years old, from South Sudan, and I moved to the states at the age of 5. I was raised in Buffalo, attending St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and currently enrolled at as a junior at SUNY Buffalo State, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in religious studies. My favorite hobbies are playing videogames, basketball (NBA 2k when I want to combine the two) and watching anime.

I’m working at MAP this summer because I love food and building real connections with people. Being exposed the other youth employees and my coworkers at MAP that come from a variety of different backgrounds will help me further understand the empowerment that comes from living in a diverse community. MAP allows me to combine my passion for food and desire to establish long trusting relationships so that I can one day use these skills to help better my community and ultimately shape the world we live in.

This week's menu: Around the World in Five Dishes

Chicken with Herb Sauce 

Made with chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme from the youth garden. Based on this recipe.

Stir Fried Peas and Pea Shoots

Made with pea shoots from the youth garden. Pea pods and garlic scapes from the Mobile Market
Adapted from this recipe.


Topped with rosemary from the Youth Garden.
 From Simply in Season.

Peas mo' Lettuce

Red leaf lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard from the Youth Garden.
Japanese salad dressing from Moosewood Cooks for a crowd, see below for the recipe.

Strawberry Cobbler

Based on this recipe.

This week our wonderful team leaders cooked the first summer lunch of the year. Their menu was inspired by local produce available in early summer in Western New York: peas, garlic scapes, salad greens and strawberries.

Japanese Dressing 

  • 4 garlic scapes 
  • 1/3 cup grated ginger
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • pepper to taste
Add all ingredients except vegetable oil to blender and blend. Slowly add in the vegetable oil until dressing is smooth and thickened.