I Am a Youth and I Am the Food Justice Movement

I Am a Youth, I Am the Food Justice Movement:
Growing Green Youth in National Youth-Led Food Policy

Hello my name is Jordan Velasquez and I am the food justice movement. This July four youth from the Massachusetts Avenue Project and Growing Green, and our youth leader, Zoe Hollomon, went to Philadelphia to be part of the first youth-led National Food Policy Summit and declare the first ever Youth Food Bill of Rights. It was put on by Rooted In Community (RIC), a national group of young food justice leaders and organizations and the Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI) urban agriculture program in Philly. Over 150 youth and adults came because we see what is happening in our communities to low income people, to farmer workers, to the environment, to animals and we DON’T accept it. We came to demand our Youth Food Bill of Rights and say that we need a better food system and we demand better from corporations and government. If you can read this then you can do something about injustice. I hope you read this and it inspires you to work for a better food system. We the youth, we are not just the future leaders, we are leaders today and we are making a change!

A lot of this started with RICs help, we had the Dignity Dialogues, where the youth spoke about how people should be treated regardless of their age, ethnicity or how much money they make. Youth are the future and so we should be included in what the future looks like. Right now we don’t like what we see: people in poor communities not being able to get healthy food , farmworkers working in unsafe conditions, big fast food companies make millions selling bad food to us, animals being abused and unclean factories that make our food, and so much pollution and waste, don’t we want a world to live in in the future? I do.

Over our time at the Youth Food Policy Summit we shared our stories, we talked about our struggles and we said what wanted for the future. We came together and made a list of rights to help our food system be fair, just and sustainable. At our Day of Action, we declared the Youth Food Bill of Rights, and we told our stories and used art and theater to make ourselves known in a way people couldn’t ignore. It was amazing and you could feel that it was something really big. People came in from the street and from around the park to see what it was about. I presented one of the Youth Food Rights and even though I was nervous I felt proud of myself and all of us there. We challenged adults to join with us to fight in the food justice movement and had people come and sign our Youth Food Bill of Rights.

After the Day of Action we got into regional groups and talked about how we could each take on a few of these rights to work on from our communities. It could be getting nutrition education in schools or making policy to help people grow food on vacant lots, or starting a workers rights campaign, all of our regional groups will decide which Youth Food Bill of Rights they want to work on and can get support from RIC to help us as we do it. Our group from Growing Green decided to host a Youth Food Policy Laboratory October 15th and 16th in Buffalo to agree on which rights we want to work on and look at different ways to take action together in food justice in our region. We also will do an action with our state food justice partners in New York City for World Food Day October 16th.

Going to the summit I felt proud of the work I do at MAP and Growing Green. I also felt part of something bigger too. There are so many people who want justice and so many youth who are making change in their communities. We the youth are doing it. We are fighting for healthier food in our communities, we are working on policy, we are make better ways to grow food and not hurt animals and the environment. We are the food justice movement and we are just getting started!

To see the Youth Food Bill of Rights and sign on in support please go to www.youthfoodbillofrights.com If you want more information about youth and the food justice movement please go to our Youth Food Bill of Rights facebook page or Twitter page. You can also get more info at www.rootedincommunity.org or email us at MAP and Growing Green to talk about the Youth Food Policy LAB in October 2011 at hollomon@mass-ave.org.