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Students Work With Nonprofit Group To Grow And Maintain Hydroponic Farms To Fight Food Insecurity In New York City – CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Getting affordable, nutritious food is difficult for many in New York City who face food insecurity.
A grassroots, nonprofit organization is changing that with the help of students and hydroponics, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Friday.
These teens are growing greens, from lettuce to herbs, inside their New York City schools. It’s called hydroponic farming.
“It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s actually pretty simple,” said Kevin Thorpe, a junior. “It’s essentially just growing food without soil and just straight in the water, with nutrients in that water.”
Kevin is president of the Hydroponics Club at Special Music School, where he learned how it can help with food insecurity and inequity in food deserts.
“In urban areas that are predominantly Black or Latino, for example, they don’t have access to quality produce,” he said. “They can build these urban farms in the settings and actually grow the food that they need, really high quality food, within their communities.”
Kevin explained you can grow food vertically, which is perfect for city space. He even has his own hydroponic system at home, which his mom loves.
“This has changed our life. We grow a lot of things at home, we grow our own herbs that we cook with,” said Patricia Ornatowska, Kevin’s mom.
This all stems from Teens for Food Justice, a nonprofit that works at New York City Title I schools, training students to build and maintain indoor hydroponic farms.
“They are capable of growing thousands of pounds of produce every year that is then incorporated into school lunch and distributed by the students within the local communities,” said Katherine Soll, CEO and founder of Teens for Food Justice.
The organization pivoted when the pandemic shut down schools and distributed about 450 hydroponic growing kits to middle and high schools students at home.
“This is an enormous opportunity to engage the next generation in advocating for a different way of, looking at food and creating a system that really is just, across the board,” Soll said.
When school returns in the fall, we’re told there will be hydroponic fans on five city school campuses, serving 18 schools and continuing the fight against food insecurity.



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