Youth and Farm Stand Coordinator
Gus has always understood the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When continuing his education after his military service, he learned that there is more to living a healthy life than the choices a person makes. The Social environment where a person lives in plays a significant role. Pursuing a career in public health, he has worked in advocating for his fellow veterans within the Veterans Administration and as a student at Bronx Community College and Hunter College.
Moving to the Bronx, Gus feels a strong connection to the Bronx. Believing that civil engagement is an important part of building a strong community, Gus has volunteered his time on the Jerome Avenue Public Health Task Force and is now a part of New Settlement Apartments Community Food Action. What has also helped in making the Bronx his home is great pizza like Giovanni’s pizza.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is changing minds. When a child is unsure about trying new foods, seeing them try and enjoy a dish brings a smile to my face.
Why is eating well important to you?
It is important to know that one has a choice in what to eat. A good meal can make a good day.
Manuel is 16 years old attending High School of Energy and Technology in the Bronx. Last year, Manuel found his strength in educating community members about the health benefits of the produce sold at the farm stand, and how to cook and eat them. When he reflects on his experience as a youth leader, what stands out to Manuel is the relationships that he built with community members. Now he is looking to improve his Spanish in order to better serve our Spanish-speaking customers. He also built relationships with his fellow youth leaders commenting, “I grew into myself by making new friends and becoming outgoing.” We know that Manuel’s ability to connect and educate will make him a key player this season.
Maria is a bilingual educator and community worker who joined us in 2018 to coordinate our cooking and gardening initiatives. On the one hand, she leads the Farmers Markets for Kids, and on the other, she coordinates Community Food Action’s work in schools and is the service site supervisor for our two FoodCorps Service Members.
Her efforts in promoting and advocating culturally responsive educational environments have allowed Maria to practice in the classroom, at the Battery Urban Farm where she was tenured for two years prior to joining the CFA team, and at various other alternative community-based educational settings. She strives to contribute to the economic and sustainable development of migrant, minority populations in NYC through fostering increased social/political awareness, and implementing educational initiatives around healthy food, agricultural autonomy, and heritage language preservation.
Maria believes that by rescuing the innate connections we have with nature, we can develop a love of place. And love for our shared home ground leads us to care for it and act against its destruction and exploitation, which is our own. Children in particular “allow themselves to be imprinted by place” and if they’re lovingly devoted to a place, that is the beginning of action.
Maria’s favorite place to grow, buy, or eat food in the Bronx is La Finca del Sur, a 3-acres urban farm ran by women of color, the first one of its kind in the city of New York.
Mary is a FoodCorps service member serving at PS 294 for the 2019-2020 school year. Mary is passionate about environmental justice and believes in the importance of a connection to the Earth for our mental and physical well being. Inequalities in who can benefit from and protect the natural world, especially in this time of environmental catastrophe, led Mary to this work. A cooking, gardening, and eating enthusiast, Mary aims to foster a positive and joyful attitude around foods that connect people to their cultures, the Earth, and each other.
Mary graduated from Columbia University in 2019 with a degree in Sustainable Development. She completed an undergraduate senior thesis focused on actionable steps to increase food justice in a community in New Jersey, and has worked for two years as an America Reads teaching assistant in a public elementary school in Harlem. Mary strives to be a source of positivity and support for young people to explore their creativity and curiosity about the world.
Mary’s favorite place to buy food in the Bronx is at local farmer’s markets, where she can connect directly with farmers and buy affordable produce through GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box program.
Passion is 17 years old currently attending Aquinas High School in the Bronx. Last year Passion assisted with community outreach at the 170 Farm Stand’s Compost on the Go Station. Passion remains interested in learning about compost and sharing the importance of composting with the Mt. Eden community. For Passion this opportunity is a “great opportunity to learn and get out of your comfort zone.” We know Passion’s potential as an educator, for community members and her peers, and we can’t wait to have her back in action with us this season!
Selma is a food literacy educator and nutrition advocate serving with us at P.S.42 through FoodCorps for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. We are thrilled to have Selma return for her second year of service! She believes that food is a fundamental need that must be fulfilled in order to reach our fullest and truest potential.
Selma advocates for an increase in food product knowledge, preparation and production because these skills make for a holistic approach to nutrition. Once individuals and families learn to be diverse about their food and learn the “know how” of handling materials and equipment properly, food shifts from just another fun four letter word to an amazing activity and experience. She also believes the relationship with food is a potential positive model to engaging other aspects of life and community such as self-actualization, culture, and wellness.
Selma’s favorite place to buy food is Aldi, a supermarket in the Hub in the South Bronx. She enjoys going there with her mother because her enthusiasm to get cooking fresh delicious meals is unmatched!
Taisy has loved good food her whole life and is always looking forward to her next meal. Growing up in New York City, she was exposed to cuisines from around the globe, but was also aware of the predominance of cheaply made processed food. Taisy first came to this work to address the damaging and disproportionate health impact of processed food on low-income families and communities of color. As she steadily became aware of the systems and structures in place that propagate food that is bad for the body, for communities, for workers, and for the environment, Taisy became determined to join efforts to restore truly nourishing food to our neighborhoods.
Taisy Conk came on board to New Settlement as the Community Healthy Food Advocate through Communities for Healthy Food in 2013. Since then, she has built the program from the ground up with the support of her passionate team members and committed partners. Prior to working at New Settlement, Taisy conducted food access and physical activity research in New Orleans and was a Patient Navigator at a safety net hospital in Boston. Taisy holds an MPH from Tulane University in Global Community Health and Nutrition. Having lived, gone to school, and now worked in the Bronx, Taisy is proud to have the opportunity to transform the neighborhood food landscape alongside Bronx youth and adults.
Taisy’s favorite place to grow, cook, or eat food in the Bronx is City Island.