Posted on Wed, August 24, 2011 by Hnin
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Last month, my buddy Corey from GOLES and I joined 125 youth and 45 adult allies from across the country at the Rooted in Community (RIC) Leadership Summit in Philly to draft and launch a “Youth Food Bill of Rights”. Written by teens, the YFBR is a living document that is a declaration for justice in the food system and beyond.
As someone who became politicized about food system issues after reading Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation at 17, it was amazing to bear witness to so many youth coming together around their shared values and vision for a more just food system. When I was growing up, “sustainable food” or “food justice” wasn’t a part of anyone’s vocabulary in school or out of school—especially not in my immigrant, working class neighborhood in Brooklyn. The only words I ever saw attached to “food” was “stamps”.
The social and political climate around food has really changed in the 6 years since my political food awakening. Today’s youth are not only learning and talking about the right to good food—they’re also taking action to make it a reality for everyone. Over the four days of the RIC gathering, youth visited local urban farms, gardens, and food justice projects. They led and participated in workshops about food and organizing. And then, they expressed what they learned through visual art, creative messaging, performance pieces, and of course, the Youth Food Bill of Rights.
More and more, youth and young people are rising up to take the lead in the struggle for good food in all of our communities—especially those that are low-income and of color. The Youth Food Bill of Rights is both a testament to this and a call for more action. The document is currently traveling with a young band of Food and Freedom Riders and RIC organizers are planning to share it at the Growing Food and Justice Initiative conference, Community Food Security Coalition conference, and Indigenous People’s Seed Saving gathering. The youth need all our support to make their voices heard—and it is an important voice from the people who are still rooted in the community and who have a real stake in transforming the food system from the ground up.
This blog is part of a Slow Food USA summer blog series called Youth Beets—which features stories about young people changing the food system. How are you or young people in your community taking action? Tell us in the comments.
Photo credit: WHYY