Ever wondered how we even started Youth Food Movement Australia, and what it takes to start your own food organisation? We sat down with our co-founder Alexandra Iljadica for a run down. 

At our core, we believe in the power of a young voice and experience. When we started YFM, we didn’t feel that our voice and experience was being properly heard. YFM was intended to be a platform to share our own experiences of food and our ideas for how we could challenge the status quo.

There are plenty of ways to create a more sustainable food system. The piece of the pie that we are contributing (out theory of change) is about increasing food literacy. That’s the knowledge, skills and experiences young adults (18-35) have around food – and empowering young people to be active in their community. I’m not talking exercise, I’m talking about being a leader, getting your hands dirty in things that matter and having a voice in conversations that matter.

We kicked things off like many good ideas. We had a dinner one night, and we invited anyone and everyone we knew who cared and thought about food and its impact on the world as much as we did. At that dinner, we covered the tables in brown paper and gave everyone a texta and asked them, ‘what keeps you up at night when it comes to food?’. From there half of the group became our first volunteers and it grew from there.

Upon reflection our secret ingredients over the last 5 years are:

  • Yearly strategic planning days. This means mapping what is going on the industry and the world you’re working in. It means looking at the natural strengths of the people in your team. It means allowing the group to define and articulate what it’s future looks like so you can together plan a path for how to get there
  • Smart, experienced people. I can almost promise you that the problem you’re facing, or the hurdle you’re trying to jump over has been attempted by someone close to you. Tap these people on the shoulder, share what you’re up against and they may generously share their experiences and strategies.
  • Learn how to ask. This is still a tough one for me personally, and for most humans. Asking for help, asking for support, asking for money, asking for an introduction, seem so simple in theory, and then in practice can be the one thing holding you back from greatness. My strategy to overcome being stuck in this moment is to get a very close friend to give me a pep talk, do a little rehearsal (or proof read my email), and hit send with faith.
  • Know how your brain works. Whether it’s your Myers Briggs profile or your spirit animal, our brains are all wired differently which means we’re good at some things and bad at others. Learning what makes your mind thrive and what is likely to trip you up are good ways to allocate tasks in a team (hello to doing the fun stuff only!), and to look out for complementary ability sets in a partner/co-founder.

Looking for more advice on being an effective behaviour change campaigner? Check out our post on how to do behaviour change work well (without being a dick).

Image credit: Alexandra Iljadica

Alexandra Iljadica