David Schwartz came to the Jewish Organizing Fellowship a year after landing a job with the Real Food Challenge, organizing students for just and sustainable food. Growing up in two very different Boston neighborhoods—one largely Black and Latino and the other a more affluent suburb— David witnessed intense disparities in health, economic opportunity and access to real food early on. After years trying to educate other teens about food security and urban agriculture, he began to organize for larger structural change. He looked to his university to catalyze an economic shift.
“These big food service companies spend billions on food each year. Billions of students’ dollars. I read Michael Pollan; I knew something was wrong there. But meeting the farmworkers in Florida who picked the tomatoes caused a real shift for me. It wasn’t until I saw the cramped trailers and heard their stories of physical abuse that I knew we couldn’t support a system that treats people so unjustly. Those endless fields of tomatoes are hidden from too many of us. But I knew that students and their universities had power to change that equation.”
David and the Real Food Challenge are working to change the food industry. With support from the Echoing Green Fellowship, they’ve launched a national campaign to shift $1 billion of college food spending to fair, local and sustainable food. Every year they organize regional youth summits and intensive campus activist trainings for student leaders. He reflects: “In everything our organization does now, there’s a piece of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. Whether it’s negotiating with a big food service corporation or coaching a new student leader—the Fellowship’s incredible workshops, stories and community are now in our DNA.”
After his Fellowship year, David continued at the Real Food Challenge and now serves as the youngest member of the JOIN for Justice board.
David is fighting for food justice. What will you fight for?