Lights On Event ft. Nourishing Newark and the Green Bronx Machine!

What is the Lights On Event?!

Lights On was originally started by Principal Akbar Cook of West Side High back in 2018, in which the goal was to provide a safe haven for students and community members Friday after school to reduce violence and fatalities that were happening on Friday nights. Lights On provides food every Friday night from 3:00-7:00 pm, in addition to classes and activities, including basketball, culinary arts, fashion, gardening, and more.

GGI Hosted Event!

On March 3rd, Local Leaders from West Side High School put on a Lights On Cultural Event in partnership with
Nourishing Newark and the Green Bronx Machine.

Students presented on:

  • School meal improvement,
  • nutrition,
  • and nutrition sustainability

In addition, students and local community members were able to hear about how to learn, earn, and grow by listening to a presentation from Stephen Ritz, CEO and Founder of the Green Bronx Machine.

“It was an honor to spend time at Westside High School in Newark, NJ and spend time with their Local Leaders of the 21st Century along with their community partners, Go Green Initiative, and Nourishing Newark. To see a fully functional, student-run, Tower Garden farm growing healthy food, in an underutilized space, bursting with food – in the middle of winter in the heart of Newark NJ – is beyond inspiring. Westside High School is growing healthy children, healthy food, and a vibrant community culture rooted in leadership and self-determination – BRAVO! In that spirit, Green Bronx Machine is delighted to donate our curriculum, site license, and unlimited professional development to Westside High School and would love to feature their recipes and chefs in our programming. Thanks Raven Maier Bell and Jill Buck for bringing us all together, the best is yet to come!” -Stephen Ritz, CEO/Founder, Green Bronx Machine

After listening to a couple of presentations, WSH Local Leaders hosted a tour of their tower garden facility and a cooking competition demonstrating the nutrition and importance of cultural foods, representing Jamaican, Nigerian, and West African cultures and cuisines. 

This experience is one of the best and I can tell you I would gladly do anything to re-create the moment and laughter that was shared during the event. The cooking competition was also really fun, trying new food and embracing other cultures, which brought joy and a smile to my face. People willing to spread diversity and also encouraging others to do it, is one of the best moments in my life speaking as a Nigerian girl in a foreign country. –Ademide Johnson, WSH LL


The night ended with raffle prize announcements, in which students received gift cards ranging from $25-$100 to purchase healthy, nutritious foods!