Some of the most exciting and innovative work in the food movement today is being done by people under the age of twenty-five. University students are changing the food served in their cafeterias, and growing food on their campus greens and local communities.
In order to highlight the work being accomplished by youth around the country, and to inspire international Slow Food leaders to bring these models for youth engagement back to their home countries, a group of students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy along with the Youth Food Movement delegation of Slow Food USA, presented a proposal to form an international student network at the Fifth International Slow Food Congress.
The University of Gastronomic Sciences, which is in its forth year since being founded in 2003, now hosts 28 nationalities within its student body of roughly 250 students. The University, represented by 13 of those nationalities at the congress, expressed that their experiences traveling and studying together have allowed them to gain unique insight into their own cultural differences and the fundamental issues that unite them.
The Slow Food USA Youth Food Movement delegation, which comprised of an energetic group of youth leaders and activist, presented the success of the Slow Food on Campus Program based within university campuses and some of the interesting projects that have benefited positively in changing the food systems within their local and national community.
The two groups united to join forces in forming a global network with their fellow students around the globe– to promote and academic discourse and share resources and experiences – in an effort to promote food production and consumption that is good, clean, and fair. These three criteria, they explain, are important for the social and environmental justice for all food systems.
Building on the enthusiam of the two groups, the students outlined some of their key goals for making this project a reality.
Encourage Slow Food convivia to involve youth in their activities and increase youth membership
Develop university-based convivia around the world.
Invest in young farmers: particularly in opportunities for exchange and education involving the University of Gastronomic Sciences, other universities and young farmers and to develop active working relationship with Terra Madre communities.
Integrate students and young people into various levels of Slow Food leadership, with the aim of having a youth representative in each national board.
Create new methods of communication and engagement centered around the international youth food movement.