Voice for Food project: From a youth perspective

Michigan is part of a six-state, federally-funded research project called Voices for Food. This article explores how the youth perspective is included in this grant.

The Voices for Food project is a grass roots effort to create a food council in communities to help address the issues facing the food systems and the food insecurities. Community leaders in Michigan’s Lake and Isabella counties are coming together to look at these issues and are hoping to make changes that will impact the people in their communities related to food.

This grant specifically included a tool called Photovoice to help youth become involved in the topic of food and giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard and make a difference in the decisions the food council makes.

Here is an overview on how the Voices for Food Photovoice project works.

  1. We gather a group of kids together that are interested in three things: photography, food and making a difference.
  2. We teach the kids about what a food system is and how they are affected by it. We also teach them photography techniques they can use to take good pictures.
  3. We give the kids time to go into the community and capture pictures of their food system. They capture really good things happening and some areas that have opportunities for growth.
  4. The kids come back together and share the pictures they took, and we analyze the pictures with the SHOWED method.
    1. What do you SEE here?
    2. What’s really HAPPENING here?
    3. How does this relate to OUR lives?
    4. WHY does this problem or condition exist?
    5. How could this image EDUCATE others?
    6. What can we DO about it?
  5. After the youth pick the pictures that best represent their community, they have the opportunity to share their pictures at a showcase with the food council in their community.

If you are interested in learning more about the food council or how to incorporate Photovoice into a project in your area, contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office.