Get Up Stand Up: The Youth Food Bill of Rights

standing up for good food at last year's RIC conference | Image via RICWe can all scream and yell about the current failures in our country's food system until we're hoarse, but the power of hearing it from our nation's youngest generations can not be denied. Issues surrounding the food that is served in school cafeterias (GRID's September issue cover story), neighborhood corner stores, and the accessibility of farmers markets are ones that effect young people each and every day -- and many young people are not going to stand for it anymore. Enter the Youth Food Bill of Rights.

The Youth Food Bill of Rights is what young people believe our food system should be like. It's a tool for change, and it's effective.

As part of the upcoming 13th Annual Rooted in Community (RIC) Conference, youth leaders from around the nation will present their bill of rights on July 30th at the National Constitution Center. But first, more young people need to step forward and make their demands. The Bill of Rights’ website (youthfoodbillofrights.com) features a forum where those sick of food injustices in their neighborhoods can speak up and demand change. Examples of what youth have already demanded include, salad bars in every school cafeteria full of locally-sourced produce; required nutrition classes; and that fast food restaurants not advertise to those under the age of 14.

The site also offers information on community organizations dedicated to youth empowerment and food justice, and youth-oriented videos on food production, factory meat, and organic vs. conventional foods.

Although registration for the RIC conference officially closed last week, the event will bring over 120 youth and adults to the University of Pennsylvania from July 27th to the 31st. Hosted by the Agatson Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI), the conference will highlight how to foster healthy communities and food justice through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food sovereignty, and environmental justice work. Eleven urban farming sites in Philly will host exposure trips, twelve youth-created workshops will be held on food justice and community organizing, and ten Philadelphia artists will teach attendees ways to express their their disdain for food injustice.

The three-day event is truly the chance for high school youth and their mentors from California, Washington, Iowa, Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Work, and Pennsylvania to stand up for the health they deserve.