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Reflections on RIC 2011

The following blog was written by TFP Intern Keron Cruz. Keron, along with fellow intern Keely Curliss, represented The Food Project at the RIC (Rooted in Community) conference in late July 2011.

Two weeks ago, my coworker, Keely Curliss, and I had the opportunity to participate at the RIC (Rooted in Community) conference in Philadelphia, PA. The purpose of RIC is to bring together organizations all over the country who work in trying to make a difference in the food system and to learn from one another and promote the movement of food justice.

Despite working at The Food Project for about three-and-a-half years, I had never been involved in a conference where I had the chance to see organizations similar to The Food Project trying to create change. I had no idea what to expect from RIC and by the time the conference came to an end, I learned that there are hundreds on youth like myself who are working hard for a better tomorrow.

Opening night, Wednesday, set the tone for what the conference was going to be all about. We had the opportunity to see the organizations we would be working with. Organizations came from all over the country, including Arizona, California, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington State.

The second day, which essentially was the first in terms of agenda and activities set, was for youth to educate each other about what we were doing in our respective communities with our organizations. Keely and I delivered three workshops that TFP usually teaches, with the addition of a fourth brand new one. These workshops address topics such the two types of food systems, workers in the food system, and what's really in your food.

In delivering the workshop, we then had the chance to explore our area of interest with workshops put together for us by the staff. The following day it was all about coming together to brainstorm and receive feedback from the knowledge we were taught.

The fourth day, which was by far the biggest of the five day conference, was about putting everything we knew into action. Prior to the fourth day, Saturday, we the youth sat in groups of 12 in which we generated a list of food rights to be implemented in the future as the Youth Food Bill Of Rights. Some of these rights included fair treatment for the workers in the food system, ending the use of pesticides and chemicals in our foods, and increasing access to healthy organic food in underserved neighborhoods, along with many more rights.

In creating this potential bill, we were willing to have a protest in a local park in the city of Philadelphia for people to become aware of what the food system is all about and how we would like for it to be run.

Aside from doing work in the area of food justice, we had free time to explore the city and interact with other youth to build long lasting friendships. It’s been about two weeks since the conference ended, and I'm still talking to a lot of the youth with whom I became friends with in a matter of days. Events like these are what makes not only a difference in how we approach our daily lives but what we support, as everyday the world around us changes.

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