On February 5, 2010, over a hundred and fifty students and youth from Maryland to Florida traveled through driving ice, snow, and rain to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the second annual Southeast Youth Food Activist Summit (SYFAS). Friday night, author/activist Anna Lappe from the Small Planet Institute delivered an inspiring Keynote Address on the effects of our current industrial food system on climate change and personal health and the importance of the youth food movement for creating a more socially just and environmentally sustainable Real Food economy.
After warming up with some locally roasted coffee, attendees socialized over a community meal of creamy butternut squash soup, Dal and rice, organic greens, and apple crisp all sourced from local NC farms and co-ops.
**Read Rob Jones' "Dispatch from SYFAS" on CivilEats: http://civileats.com/2010/02/12/dispatch-from-the-2nd-annual-southeast-youth-food-activist-summit/
On Saturday, the conference kicked into high gear. Sixteen workshops and speaker panels led by NGO professionals, sustainable agriculture researchers, professors, union organizers, farmers, and students explored a variety of intriguing and complicated issues. From workshops on successful strategies for campus organizing, to speaker panels on why we're losing our mid-sized family farms, to discussions on dismantling racism in the food movement, the SYFAS presenters educated and engaged their young audience as students gained the skills to bring real food into their home communities.
As the busy day of learning came to a close and a light snow fell on Chapel Hill, the Summit attendees gathered for a final evening meal of local pork barbecue, vegan chili, white sweet potato soup, and plenty of green roughage. Saturday night students spent a night on the town enjoying the local music scene and getting together around the community to network and bond.
Sunday focused on structured "Open Spaces" activities which fostered some strategic planning and deep discussion on many aspects of the youth movement--out of it came an incredible amount of energy that students and youth will be bringing back to campuses and communities across the Southeast with a new resolve to strengthen and build the Southern Real Food network.