Put Some Respect on My Plate

Put Some Respect on My Plate builds healthy and sustainable communities by empowering Black youth with a first-class food education.

Photo of Diop Russell
3 7

Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @respectmyplate

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Food inequity in urban Atlanta contributes to two starkly different experiences. Atlanta University Center students waste food while members of the surrounding West End community live in a food desert. Since impoverished Black communities have a higher density of fast-food chains, Black people consume a higher intake of processed foods. It is imperative to build an equitable community, so everyone can gain access to healthy and affordable produce

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The inaugural Put Some Respect on My Plate Symposium will reduce food inequity by galvanizing students from the Atlanta University Center (AUC) to bring good food, good health, and service to the West End. My symposium will be a welcoming space for students, AUC staff, and the West End community to address the prevailing hunger gap and food waste crisis. My symposium will combat these issues in three phases: outreach, organization, and execution. My team will make personal videos inviting student organizations, faculty members, and community change agents to join the movement. We will establish deep roots in our community by interviewing potential partners and listening to their needs. Once the symposium builds capacity, we will expand our team. We will make a Google Forms application to attract a host of passionate student leaders. Then we will implement our symposium at Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college that has a legacy of activism that we plan to further. The symposium will be comprised of solution sessions that will share ways to eliminate food waste, invest food dollars into local businesses, and serve community organizations.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I am passionate about reducing food insecurity because lack of access played a critical role in my life. Not too long ago, my parents had to drive ten miles to reach the closest supermarket. Buying wholesome and affordable foods, for a family of five, was a challenge my mom faced every week. I advocate for people who navigate food inequity because access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food is a human right.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I was in the midst of eating a salad when my friend, Cameron, let out a sigh: “Diop, how can you eat that!?” Cameron thought healthy food was unsatisfying and devoid of flavor. Most of my peers, especially those who came to lunch armed with a supply of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos thought so, too. This alarmed me. I wanted to help Cameron form a positive relationship with healthy foods, so I invited him to a Put Some Respect on My Plate workshop. He learned how to shop for affordable and flavorful produce at the supermarket. Then he made stir fry and a fruit smoothie with local ingredients. Cameron had a blast learning new things with his friends. From that day forward, he was committed to taking control of his health.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Put Some Respect on My Plate adopts an unconventional approach to combat food insecurity. We use a peer to peer education model to develop programming. We also put a hip hop twist on our workshops. Participants, who we affectionately call our Respect Squad, learn how to make wraps with ingredients from all five food groups, and they cultivate critical consciousness about how their favorite rappers capitalize on their junk food eating habits through advertisements.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Put Some Respect on My Plate had made a significant difference thus far. On social media, we encourage young people to live healthier lives by providing a visual representation of great-tasting, high-quality, and nutritious foods. Our 300 followers share their creativity in the kitchen and seek out local restaurants that serve healthy meals. The hashtag, #RESPECTMYPLATE, is widely used among teens nationwide. It allows them to follow, contribute, and spread the word about our healthy eating movement. Put Some Respect on My Plate has used $3,500 in grant funding to implement clubs across the Detroit Public Schools District. We have a track record of community service. Our initiative conducted a food drive that provided 20 families with fresh produce, nutrition workshops for nearly 100 participants, and cooking demos that encouraged teens to change the world, one plate at a time.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Spelman is a phenomenal place to start the Put Some Respect on My Plate Symposium because its students understand the necessity of taking care of their bodies and communities. Spelman is also apart of the AUC, a consortium of historically Black institutions including Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morris Brown College. The Spelman College Wellness Center is the perfect, new location to host the symposium because it is accessible to all AUC students and community members. The Wellness Center will accommodate a range of interactive activities so participants can have an engaging experience.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 40%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 80%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 60%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 80%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)

Diop Russell_Letter of Recommendation.pdf

This is a letter of recommendation from Kristen McAvoy, Program Manager for the Leadership and Global Activation department at Vital Voices Global Partnership.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Stormy Barajas

I really enjoyed reading about this project and the importance in which you are taking ownership of to make a change.  your approach and solution to a growing epidemic is surely something to be proud of!

View all comments