What does RIC mean to me?- An Ode to the Movement by Ayisah Yusuf

“Working with Rooted In Community is a big inspiration in my life as I know I am making a difference in the communities of youth across the country and all over the world one bite at a time.”

I started working with Rooted in Community the summer of 2012 when I participated in their summer summit in Ames, Iowa. At first I didn’t know much about RIC other then that they worked a lot with youth. Once I participated in their summit and saw what RIC was all about I haven’t looked at youth conferences the same. What is Rooted In Community? It is a grass roots non-profit organization, that works on food and environmental justice issues, but their focus is on empowering the youth. It’s about giving the youth the tools they need to become leaders in their communities.
At these summits the most important thing is giving respect and having the youth voice heard on what could seem like tough issues to some. That’s why there are always youth led workshops, group discussions and panels, so they can tell there stories on what is really going on in there communities. There are also discussions on food sovereignty, on how you see yourself and where you come from. We also play games, go on farm and garden tours, have awesome talent shows and even a dance party at the end to signify all the awesome work we all do. But my favorite part of the summits is our day of action. We all make signs, chants and we march up and down the city with YFBR flyers and then after we have our annual press conference.
Also a big focal point is the Youth Food Bill of Rights. Most youth live two blocks away from a corner store that sells soda, chips and microwave meals and live ten blocks away from the nearest grocery or farmers market. Then to top it off most of them don’t own cars, which would lead them to have to pay for the bus just to get to store. The youth got tired of the way food issues where dealt with in their communities. What is the Youth Food Bill of Rights? The YFBR is a document that the youth came up with at the 2011 RIC conference in Philly. They were taking a look at the Farm Bill and decided there needed to be a food bill for the youth, to address the food issues in their communities.
After participating in the 2012 summer summit, where I met a lot of amazing young leaders and adult advocates who I can now say have become family to me, I couldn’t wait to start working with them again. So in April of 2013, Gerardo Marin the co-director of RIC came up to DC to seek advice from the Rural Coalition on some steps on how to make the Youth Food Bill of Rights more congress friendly without loosing the feelings of the youth. So Lorette and myself showed Gera around Congress and dropped off some YFBRs packets to a couple of the aids.
Then I participated in the RIC summit in July in Los Angela’s, CA, where they asked me to participate in a panel on youth of color working in food justice work. I also helped Maya S who is the youth adviser for RIC on some presentations the youth did on the Youth Food Bill of Rights. The youth are so passionate about these issues. For some it is what drives them to get up in the morning for others it’s a way to feed their families, but for all its changing the way people look at the youth of today.
So in all being asked to become a part of the Rooted In Community Advisory Board was amazing. I was asked at the July summit because of working with Rural Coalition, my good natured spirit and my passion and commitment to the issues. I love to help people its in my blood and being able to help uplift the youth of today and tomorrow to become better leaders and take their futures into there own hands is an amazing feeling.