Curious what it means to be a Repair the World fellow? Here, current Detroit fellow, Sarah Baylis talks about a powerful day talking about and experience food justice with a grew group of local high school students.

Here in Detroit, we recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of high school students from the Generation of Promise program. The organization’s mission is “to build a community of young leaders who celebrate diversity and are dedicated to the elimination of discrimination in metropolitan Detroit.” The purpose of their visit to Repair the World in Detroit was to learn more about food justice in the city.

We started the day with a fun ice-breaker, doing a variation on the traditional game, “two truths and a lie.” Each student said a food they hate, a food they love, and a food they had never tried. The rest of the participants then guessed which one they thought was the lie. It was a fun and engaging activity that prepared us to focus on food justice for the rest of the day’s work and discussion. As ice breakers do, it also helped us to get to know each other a little better.

Next, fellow Andrew Weiner led an introductory lesson about the terms food justice, food access, food desert, and sustainability. He wrote these terms on the whiteboard and allowed the students to write what they thought each term signified. This led into a discussion about what the terms mean broadly, and what they mean to Detroit specifically.

We then segued into a seed sorting activity that allowed the students to do some direct food justice service. A multitude of seeds had been donated to one of our partners, Keep Growing Detroit, which need to be sorted so they can later be distributed to farmers and gardeners in the area. The students had a great time and were very efficient — a few new Justin Bieber hits helped get us in the sorting zone! We got so much done, we were able to finish sorting an entire box of seeds.

After the seed activity, we gave the students a tour of a local business called Detroit Farm and Garden. An employee described the services they provide to farmers in the area and how they are dedicated to being a good neighbor in the local community. The students got to see all the supplies offered there such as soil, compost, and seeds. We then took them to lunch at a local, family-run restaurant.

After lunch we trekked over to the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC). Here they got a briefing on what FREC does and helped out at a food pantry run out of FREC that feeds hundreds of families in the area. They sorted donated food products (by now, we were all sorting experts!), and stocked the shelves to get them ready for visiting families.

To finish off the packed day, we took a moment for reflection to hear the students’ takeaways. Their group leader, Lacey, said that she was happily surprised by “all the amazing things happening here,” and that she noticed that the “community rises ups to fill in gaps.” Katie Baron was “amazed by the number of families the food pantry served” and Taylor McCarthy said that “the meaning of food justice” had been circling around his head all day.

We were so happy to host these students and were glad that they had such a positive experience. Before we left one another, we offered them a flyer with lots of other ways they can stay involved with food justice work in the area.

Find out more about volunteer opportunities in Detroit for 2016 at Repair the World’s Detroit Fellows Facebook page.