The lack of fresh food in food deserts and food swamps in low income neighborhoods is the focus of the inaugural Anti-Food Apartheid initiative taking place this Saturday, April 17th at 2pm at the Word Up Cafe, a Black-owned restaurant in East New York. Sponsored by BAMLA, there will be free vegan/vegetarian meals, information on healthy eating and food justice, and recruiting for BAMLA's youth leadership program for children and young adults ages 12-21.
The event is the first in a series produced by the new nonprofit BAMLA—By All Means Leadership Alliance—which aims to tackle issues of social and food justice by training and developing young BIPOC leaders who will develop social justice projects for their communities.
BAMLA was founded by Chris Means, one of the few Black front of house leaders in the hospitality industry, who most recently ran the restaurant Flora on the Upper East Side. Means is committed to empowering black youth to become leaders in their communities and to helping to bring attention to the food deserts and food swamps that contribute to the health and wellness inequality in America and highlighted the direct connection between toxic diets, Black people, and morbidity.
Chris Means, Founder of BAMLA
"Far too many black people are dying from what they eat, so Word Up Cafe was established with a mission to nourish the body and also the mind while uplifting the community in the process," explained Means. "Started five years ago by retired public school teacher Sharon J Kennedy-Frost, the Black-owned Word Up Cafe is a beacon and cultural hub in East New York. A champion of its community, Word Up Cafe is a perfect partner for BAMLA’s initial Anti-Food Apartheid activation."
Means is also raising funds for a mobile food truck that will travel to food deserts in low income neighborhoods bringing free healthy meals and "healthy food labs"—approachable culinary and nutrition education.
Means spent much of his youth watching his parents give back to their local Indianapolis community, housing homeless families and driving around giving meals to those hungry and in need. "I was looking at ways to bridge social justice through food," said Means. "I want to create a program that develops children and young adults into servant leaders and shows them what that means and how that looks. I want to teach life skills and show our young leaders how to put those life skills to work to support their community."
BAMLA's Anti-Food Apartheid
Saturday, April 17th at 2pm
Word Up Cafe
652 Pennsylvania Avenue
Hope to see you there!