100 youth leaders from national food movement march on Wendy’s in Albuquerque, NM!

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Rooted in Community (RIC) makes Wendy’s a stop on its annual Youth Summit march!

Gerardo Reyes of the CIW (left, in dark shirt) speaks to RIC members following last week’s march on Wendy’s.

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.  A highlight of RIC’s work is the annual Youth Summit, an eagerly anticipated national gathering which took place in Albuquerque this year and was, as always, a high-energy weekend, filled with field trips to local indigenous reservations, workshops on different gardening methods, and conversations on food accessibility and food supply chains.

Also this year, the CIW and the Student/Farmworker Alliance were there to talk about the Fair Food movement and the Wendy’s campaign, and their participation was met with a lot of enthusiasm.  Moved by the unprecedented advances for farmworkers under the Fair Food Program and Wendy’s refusal to support those advances, the conference participants decided to add a Wendy’s action to the agenda.  During a march through Albuquerque planned by RIC youth, the youth leaders stopped for a protest and manager visit at a local Wendy’s, a spirited action that put Wendy’s on notice that, in the words of Catalina Avila, a student at Florida International University, “If they don’t sign [a Fair Food agreement], we won’t buy!”

You can check out their energy and commitment in the video below as the delegation that went to visit the manager at last week’s Wendy’s action provides a report for their fellow marchers on their experience:  


Wendy’s has made no secret of its efforts to target the youth demographic (from a recent Christian Science Monitor article, “Wendy’s moves to target millennials,” 5/14):

Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick says the chain is evolving its menu and marketing to ensure it appeals across generations.  “The transformation of the Wendy’s brand is essential to strengthen our relevance with the boomer generation and to establish credible relevance with the Millennial generation,” he told analysts during the quarterly earnings conference call.

But young people aren’t the unthinking consumers of social media and fast food that corporate executives dream about.  Rather, as the youth who traveled from all four corners of the country to meet in Albuquerque will attest, the newest generation of young adults cares as deeply about social justice as it does about social media, and would rather talk about their favorite food justice organizations than their favorite fast food places.

Wendy’s is going to have to do more than makeover its menu to really win over today’s young people, and the youth gathered at the RIC summit will surely be leading the way as the Fair Food movement conveys that message — loud and clear — to Wendy’s leadership in the months ahead!