In this article, reflecting critically on past school food studies and considering the landscape of qualitative methods, notably youth participatory action research methodologies, the authors share methodological suggestions for centering social justice and sustainability with the lived experience of youth by drawing on their critical qualitative research in Detroit and New York City public schools. We advance an analytic framework that aims to center youth voices and solutions to social problems such as food justice and equity. To this end we call for attention to human rights, youth participatory research, and relational ethics as part of our intention to center youth voices. Furthermore, the article emphasizes how this critical research with urban communities, ought to, and can, directly involve young people in schools together with their teachers and school leaders working and learning to take actions in support of the health, strength, and sustainability of their communities.


food studies, human rights, urban youth, school lunch, relational ethics

Author Bio(s)

Sophia Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of Urban Education. Her research appears in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Educational Policy, and Teachers College Record. Please direct correspondence to srodrig4@umd.edu.

John Lupinacci is an Associate Professor of Educational Foundations. His research focuses on food studies, ecocritical social justice scholarship, and teacher education. His research appears in Educational Studies, Policy Futures in Education and Issues in Teacher Education. Please direct correspondence to john.lupinacci@wsu.edu.

Kristen Goessling is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. Her research focuses on social justice approaches to educational issues and participatory research with youth and communities. Her research appears in The Urban Review and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Please direct correspondence to kpg5193@psu.edu.

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