As part of a wider restructure at YFM, a determined bunch of co-leaders from Sydney and Melbourne put their hands up to operate YFM as a newly-formed, volunteer-led National Leadership Team into 2019.

Taking the reins at YFM, these four women are hustling to continue YFM’s programming into 2019, to support the next generation of young people seeking to tackle the big issues one bite at a time.

Meet Ally Veneris, Bee Ellis, Jess Gardner and Ryville Ochoa as they discuss poignant moments that shaped their personal food journeys and ponder on mealtimes at the end of the world.

ALLY VENERIS

Ally Veneris

Tell us a bit about you?

I was born and raised in Colorado, USA, and moved to Melbourne in 2017. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking, but it wasn’t until graduate school in New York City that I became specifically interested in food systems within cities. I studied Urban Policy, and did research and took classes on food security in cities, food policy, and urban agriculture. 

Why YFM?

I joined YFM to, quite simply, learn more about food systems in Australia and to meet people. I did both through Upstart Session 2, was a Melbourne Chapter Coordinator for a year, and now have the amazing opportunity to be a part of the National Leadership Team. I am really excited to now engage with the YFM community on a deeper level. I am constantly in awe of other YFMers, their knowledge, and their passion for food, and I am so happy I get to continue to learn from them all.

Last meal you would eat before the apocalypse?

My mom’s pork green chilli, with some sharp cheddar cheese melted on top and a warm tortilla. Nothing better.

BEE ELLIS

Bee Ellis

Tell us a bit about you?

So I guess you want me to taco bout myself. My name is Briana (/Bee) and I love food. My family has a small food manufacturing business so I’ve sort of grown up stuffing hibiscus flowers in bottles and relishing (hey I didn’t mean to make that pun this time!) beetroot season for the next batch of finishing vinegar. I have a background in anthropology and wrote my honours thesis on food sovereignty. I am fascinated by how food, culture and community intersect. In recent years I’ve worked in the community relations and higher education sectors and am excited by the growing movement of social enterprises.

Why YFM?
If you are lucky, you will stumble across a handful of truly special people and communities in your lifetime. Without a doubt, YFM fits this category for me. It is the perfect combination of humble and headstrong with its mission, nurturing young people while never losing sight of the larger vision of a fairer food system.

Before every meeting, YFM vollies have a big cookup and share a meal together. When I’ve had a busy week, these are the moments I savour. With YFM, you’re not just joining another organisation to chuck on your CV (though what a brilliant one it is – your event management skills will skyrocket) you’re joining a family of food nerds who are thoughtful and inspiring.

Last meal you’d eat before the apocalypse?

I’d continue the monthly ritual with my brother and try a new burger place to find the ultimate hot chip, then swing past my parents for a homemade lemon tart. Any meal with the fam and some mates sounds pretty good tbh <3

JESS GARDNER

Jess Gardner

Tell us a bit about you?

I’m a country kid at heart, having grown up on the Mid-North Coast of NSW in the stunningly gorgeous Manning Valley. I have a deeply passionate relationship with food (duh), plants, and science. I moved down to Melbourne from Sydney in 2017 to study a Master of Science (Biosciences) at The University of Melbourne, doing research on native Australian food plants. I would love to focus my career as a scientist on native Australian food plants, working within urban agriculture, sustainable agriculture, permaculture or similar. In my spare time I love to do some gardening, dancing, reading and of course, absolutely love cooking (and eating!).

Why YFM?

YFM is my food family. I have been part of Upstart across two chapters, Sydney and Melbourne, been a Melbourne Chapter leader, and am now in the National Leadership Team. I have made so many friends and have met so many wonderful, gorgeous, amazing, fabulous and inspiring people. YFM is absolute heaven, and has enriched my life exponentially since I joined up in October 2016.

Last meal you would eat before the apocalypse?

My mum’s lasagne. She uses cream instead of white sauce, and the meat sauce is godly. All of the cheese on top. It’s stupendous. I’m drooling just thinking about it now…

RYVILLE OCHOA

Ryville Ochoa

Tell us a bit about you.

  • I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney; migrated from the Philippines 28 years ago.
  • I live, breathe and work in digital (advertising, data) – I had a printer at home before anyone else in my school, I pieced computers together in primary school, I built websites instead of doing my homework in high school. Such nerd.
  • A former perfectionist who dreams in lists, writes in bullet points and carries a red pen always. (Ok, not former.)

Why YFM?

Disillusioned from working in the corporate world, I sought meaning in social initiatives. I took a fellowship in Kolkata India, immersing myself into community work in the slums. On my trip and back home I saw the potential of food as a vehicle for connecting and spiritually nourishing people. I volunteered for various food non-profits, then applied for YFM’s Upstart program in 2017. What I’ve gained since has been truly exquisite – a community of engaged, eclectic, unapologetic, food-enlightened young people who want to learn stuff, shake up the food system and just hang out.

Last meal you would eat before the apocalypse?

My partner’s Tahitian lime cheesecake or my great uncle’s homegrown guava jam on toasted homemade sourdough. I truly hope they still have sweets in the post-apocalypse.

Feelin FOMO? You can be part of YFM too!

Find out about the other recent exciting changes at YFM, including our new organisational strategy and our HQ moving to Melbourne.

Youth Food Movement