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December 12, 2020

AHA Students Attend Virtual Teen Hunger Summit

Those who attended the 2020 Virtual Teen Hunger Summit walked away with a better understanding of food insecurity, and ideas to effect meaningful social change. This annual conference is a collaboration between the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and Seton Hall Prep.


Attendees from the Academy of the Holy Angels included Giselle Acosta of Fort Lee, Sarah David of Cresskill, Mary Flahive of Harrington Park, Emily Y. Kim of Englewood Cliffs, Caelyn Lindsay of Englewood, Samantha Polizzi of River Vale, and Isabel Stein of Rutherford.


“I zoomed into the hunger summit thinking that it would be about hunger, and what we could do about it. Instead, I was greeted with much more than that. I learned so much more about how sellers can throw out products so that the prices can stay high, how your ethnicity or even your sexuality can affect your personal income, or in this case, how it affects your daily meals,” Emily Y. Kim reflected. “I learned about how farmers markets can help people in need, and how food is often thrown out due to little imperfections or for being slightly older.”

Kim attended a small group session about how teens can become wellness advocates in their communities. She said the workshop was an experience she will cherish for years to come.

“I loved the fact that I have learned much more about hunger, and about different ways these problems are being fixed. I thought that the student teach-backs made it more interesting, and more casual, learning from my fellow peers,” Kim concluded.


Sarah David also found the summit a worthwhile experience.


“I had never educated myself on how hunger affects people and what the causes of it are. I had assumed that if a family was able to pay for groceries one week then for sure they would be able to pay for groceries the next; however, that is not the case. It was also really interesting to see how different counties in New Jersey are affected differently,” David noted.

During her breakout session, David participated in America’s Grow-a-Row, where she learned about a farm that provides fresh produce to people living with food insecurity.


“Because of the pandemic, they weren’t sure how many volunteers were going to help plant and harvest, so they pivoted from a volunteer base to a commercial base,” David reported, adding that enlisting agricultural professionals helped the organization achieve its goal.

Isabel Stein learned about food waste and gleaning at the Farmers Against Hunger workshop.

“I learned how much food is wasted at the farm level, and how most of the food that it wasted is still edible,” Stein explained, adding that Farmers Against Hunger gather whatever surplus is left in the field after the farmer has gone through, and deliver that produce to people in need.

“I learned a lot about how the environment impacts food insecurity as well as how healthy soil and sustainably grown crops can help the climate crisis,” Stein added. “I also learned a lot more about how New Jersey is impacted by food insecurity, and how we can help.”

Specifically, Stein noted how food insecurity and hunger are connected to social determinants of health, climate change, and other factors. She added that she enjoyed the discussion about opportunities for community service during the pandemic.

Giselle Acosta was also impressed by the discussion of how food waste and climate change affect who is able to obtain food. This student attended the workshop on the health effects of hunger.

“I learned that food insecurity not only can have detrimental effects on your body, including brain development, but it also affects your academic performance and interactions with others,” she noted. “As such, the cycle of poverty that causes food insecurity is difficult to break out of because these effects make it hard to get the kind of degrees that lead to gainful employment. We also learned that awareness and volunteering are two ways people our age can help alleviate food insecurity. We were frequently reminded to vote when we’re old enough, because policies, unlike food drives, are long-term solutions that will help lots of people over a long period of time.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from various cultural and religious backgrounds.