Youth are the truth, the story of Grow Food: “Grow Food” was an extremely organic process. Picture 25 young people crammed in a stuffy conference room, contemplating what to eat to inspire their Appetite for Change (AFC) Youth Training and Opportunities Program (YTOP) project. Available options were chicken wings and fast food, their response, “Nah, we don’t wanna keep eating that.” Inspired by this realization the group took to the streets. They walked up and down West Broadway counting and examining their food choices, unbeknownst to them - conducting a thorough “needs assessment.” Back in that small conference room they boisterously expressed their dismay that 36 junk, fried food options were available on just a 2 mile stretch of the community’s main commercial corridor, they had no “real” food choices! This, was not acceptable. Fired up and ready to make change, they put their heads together and let creativity lead the way, they formed a cypher circle and let their passion flow through words, an excerpt below:
“I gotta Appetite For Change, Cuz the burgers at McDonalds, Compared to my mommas, I swear it ain’t the same, And that’s real, No process, You see a food desert, We see progress, And we strive for more, Putting healthy foods in every corner store, For mines and yours, Never had this mind state before, I had to make a change, And that choice is yours, I gotta Appetite For Change.”
Next, through months of labor and love, Breaking Bread Cafe and Catering was born, a full service restaurant and catering social enterprise offering a unique style of fresh, global comfort foods served in a community-designed space. Breaking Bread needed attention, and how best to promote it than through the youth who inspired it.
The young people who gave life to this essential community cafe wanted to inspire the next generation of youth in the YTOP program, within two short weeks, they wrote shared bars, had free-style sessions, created the video storyboard, laughed and challenged each other's eating habits. The audio for “Grow Food” was recorded in The AFC North Minneapolis office, and the video was filmed at the new cafe and one of the AFC urban farm plots.
Grow Food has since gone viral with over half a million views on YouTube, over 10 million views across social media, performances across the nation and even claymation parodies as far away as France. This video has inspired countless youth to rethink what they put in their bodies, and gave critical attention to Breaking Bread Cafe and Catering. Since then, AFC has employed over 270 people, 90% people of color, 86% who identify as African American and over 75% are North Minneapolis residents. Through revenue generating, job-training social enterprises more than 40% of the budget comes from earned revenue. This work has lived on, growing an initiative coined, “Trap or Grow”, encouraging urban youth to grow food in their communities. Please enjoy, “Grow Food”.