The Power of the Youth Don’t Stop: JOIN Alum Chloe Zelkha

Chloe Zelkha is an alum of the 2013-2014 class of Jewish Organizing Fellows. Her JOIN placement found her working alongside teenagers at The Food Project – North Shore, where she supported youth interns in their work on food justice.

This summer, Chloe traveled with a Food Project youth leaders to a national conference in New Mexico. She wrote to us about her experience:

This summer, one of my awesome youth leaders Julia and I flew out to Albuquerque, New Mexico to scheme, strategize, connect, and share at Rooted in Community’s National Youth Summit. Rooted in Community (RIC) is a national network of young food movement leaders that empowers youth across the country to take up leadership in the struggle to change unjust food systems.

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This year, RIC organized in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-based human rights organization that fights for tomato farmworkers in Florida, to collaborate on an action at Wendy’s. Wendy’s is the current target of CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food, which demands that food retailers treat their workers with dignity — raising the wage one penny more per pound harvested, and ensuring humane farm labor standards — for example, eradicating sexual harassment in the fields, and guarding against obscene incidents of modern day slavery. The campaign is on fire! Agreements with eleven multi-billion dollar corporations including McDonald’s, Subway, Sodexo and Whole Foods have been secured — and now it’s Wendy’s turn. And youth are making their voices heard!

It was so powerful to see, in one day, so much intergenerational wisdom mobilized to take action! After a panel of elder activists sharing their inspiring stories of struggle and victory in organizing, an amped-up group of young people headed downtown to show the world what youth are capable of and what we care about.

Just the day before, Julia and I led a Food Project popular education workshop about the CIW campaign for some of the conference participants, sharing stories of farmworkers, working conditions, the history of the campaign, and what steps we can take to be allies. It was awesome to see people taking that information and translating it into signs, speeches, a letter delegation, and many young people’s first experience with chanting (“Wendy’s! Escucha! Estamos en la lucha!”) and The People’s Mic!

The energy — punctuated with drumming, cheering, and lots of love — was unmatched. Wendy’s, we’re coming for ya, and there ain’t no power like the power of the youth because the power of the youth don’t stop!

See more photos of the day’s action in the Rooted in Community Facebook album.

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