Co-Leads of the Social Justice Collective at The Farmlink Project

Kyla Goux and Alex Huynh

 
 
 
 

Favorite Veggie

Kyla: Beets

Alex: Eggplant

 

Favorite Recipe

 

Kyla: Stir fry (it’s different every time!)

Alex: Japanese Milk Bread

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Favorite Thing to Eat

 

Kyla: Things that take a long time to make, like her grandma’s homemade bread or her Dad’s cooking

Alex: Mom’s Vietnamense Crepes, Banh Xeo

By Elizabeth Pachus and Callie DiModica

July 8, 2021

Alex Huynh and Kyla Goux are the Co-Leads of The Farmlink Project’s Social Justice Collective (SJC), a branch of the organization whose mission is to identify ways in which we can use our resources to help rectify the inequitable treatment of historically marginalized groups throughout the food supply chain. The pair has formalized a plan to institutionalize the knowledge and educational resources SJC has curated in order to ensure that every Farmlink Project team member has the essential background knowledge needed to work towards a more equitable food system. 

 

In order to best support farmers, food banks, and essential workers and achieve a more just and sustainable future, it’s important to understand how and why systemic racism in the food system disproportionately affects certain communities. This past year, since SJC’s inception in summer 2020, has provided an opportunity for the branch to continue to expand and enhance its presence within The Farmlink Project with a range of new initiatives. 

 

We cannot effectively pursue our mission at The Farmlink Project of eliminating food insecurity if we do not recognize and educate ourselves on both the disproportionate ways in which food insecurity affects certain communities and the reasons why they are disproportionately affected. As Alex said, SJC workshops, meetings, and training all focus on establishing a “deeper understanding of what we are doing” as The Farmlink Project works to end hunger and improve our food systems. Through their passionate and dedicated leadership, Alex and Kyla are ready to continue cultivating a culture of learning and growth among The Farmlink Project team through SJC. Together, they are bringing SJC’s mission to fruition as they curate a welcoming space for engaging and educational discussions as we participate in the food justice space.

 

Kyla currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she works, is a plant mom, and advocates in her local community. This summer, she returned home from Wheaton College in Massachusetts where she graduated with an International Relations degree, concentrating in peace and security, while also majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. Her passion for transforming the food system, something she believes should begin at the community level, inspired her academic path and start with The Farmlink Project working on our Farms Team. She was inspired to apply as she felt she “needed to give back to spaces because [she has] the knowledge, capacity, and drive to do so.” Kyla is an advocate for social justice both inside and outside of The Farmlink Project. In Minneapolis, she worked with former Minneapolis chapter NAACP President Dr. Jason Sole on a side project to minimize threat perception of Black men in the city called “Humanize My Hoodie.” Last summer, in the wake of the turmoil over the murder of George Floyd and the creation of a local food desert due to a Target burning down, she worked to help alleviate local food insecurity. She now couples her passions for food justice and social justice, co-leading SJC with Alex. As she said of her goals, “We need to take steps to change the food system, I want to be a part of that. Not sure how, but I am here with Alex in SJC trying to start making some of those changes.”

 

Originally from Sacramento, California, Alex will be a first-year at Stanford this fall where she plans to study civil and environmental engineering. Following her graduation from high school in 2020, she decided to take a gap year, which she spent working on food systems research at UC Davis—an experience that only solidified her interest in working in the food insecurity space. However, she admitted she often felt a bit removed from the communities involved…Alex knew she wanted a more hands-on approach. As such, she began researching ways that she could get involved in a more community-based role and ultimately found The Farmlink Project. “Once I went on the website and looked at the work being done and saw how much energy was behind everything they were doing, I applied!” The Farmlink Project is lucky to have Alex as both a member of our Hunger and Outreach Team (HOT) and as a SJC Co-Lead. Along with being a leader within The Farmlink Project, Alex is also a leader for young people across the United States as the country’s 2021 National Youth Poet Laureate. Following in the footsteps of household names such as Amanda Gorman, Poet Laureates are selected “based on their writing skills and their commitment to social justice and civic engagement” (Poets.org). Alex’s commitment to communities in need is clear through all aspects of her work, and she expressed that “poetry has been a really valuable medium for [her] to kind of come into [herself] as a person.” Alex is thankful for opportunities in high school that gave her the supportive spaces which allowed the most growth; she hopes SJC can be just one of those spaces in The Farmlink Project community.

Kyla and Alex have described their overarching goal for SJC this summer as creating a longer lifespan for this once-smaller branch of The Farmlink Project. Alex poignantly said of this goal, “For me, the greatest hallmark of leadership is creating a space where you are no longer needed for it to be successful.” The duo’s aim for SJC at the moment is to create a more open space for Farmlinkers to be involved with this branch of the organization. They want to do this by creating SJC-specific training for new members, disseminating social justice resources throughout the organization, expanding internal education, and, most importantly, expanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) workshops. The commitment they bring to developing SJC’s role at The Farmlink Project is grounded in a belief that they can make an impact. According to Alex, “SJC grounds The Farmlink Project in the seriousness of our work.” Both Alex and Kyla expressed the importance of having a reliable partnership and team in achieving these goals. They credited much of their success to fellow SJC Facilitator Marc Gonzalez, thanking him, as well as each other, showcasing the friendship they have built through their time working on SJC and doing “the work of ten as a group of five or three.” 

 

When Kyla is not working to reinvigorate the work SJC does at The Farmlink Project or working one of the three other jobs she has this summer, she likes to spend time getting back to the basics of her own food consumption. This summer, she has become a dedicated “plant mom,” growing what she calls her “farmily” in buckets in her backyard. Though her peas were burned by the brick in her backyard, she is a proud mother of hot peppers, sunflowers, and beets. Kyla’s love for her garden is grounded in her belief that “the best foods are the ones that take forever to make, like homemade bread, because so much love and time go into it.” She has also spent the last several months nourishing the perfect gluten-free sourdough starter, knitting, and working at her local farmer’s market. She plans to spend the rest of her summer balancing her multiple jobs and “exploring what queerness looks like in Minneapolis now that the world is reopening.” 

Kyla’s “Farmily”

When she first joined The Farmlink Project in January, Alex began as a member of the Hunger and Outreach Team (HOT), where she works to find homes for the surplus food that The Farmlink Project locates. One of her favorite parts of this team is getting to collaborate with a multitude of organizations that are involved in hunger prevention efforts across the country. She appreciates what a privilege it is to learn from both the bigger and smaller organizations that came before us. While she still is an active member of HOT, co-leading SJC with Kyla has been a unique opportunity to help cultivate a space she is passionate about growing at The Farmlink Project. 

“I cherish how open of a space SJC is, from the first meeting it was apparent that the people there were very empathetic and really care about the people who our work is touching.” For Alex, undertaking a position as SJC Co-Lead was an exciting new way to contribute to a cause she cares about. “I believe in SJC, and I knew it would challenge me a lot as an individual.” She was quick to add, “and I love getting to work with Kyla!” It’s clear from SJC’s ambitious goals, their dedicated initiatives, and Alex’s and Kyla’s unique abilities to create an inclusive environment over Zoom that SJC and The Farmlink Project are continuously growing in the best way possible. Crediting the unique nature of The Farmlink Project, as it is comprised mainly of energized and engaged college students, Alex is excited about the direct impact young people are able make through coordinating and moving millions of pounds of food: “I’m lucky to be here, there’s a greater capacity to do good than I ever thought possible.”

 

Together, Alex and Kyla have made their mark on SJC with a stamp of intentionality; they are looking forward to implementing their new initiatives and continuing to advance their mission. Kyla and Alex are working to ensure that the SJC will remain a central part of The Farmlink Project for years to come, and we are grateful to have such dedicated and enthusiastic leaders on the team.