Sometimes the voice of young people may seem to be a distant echo that is losing its authority amongst people in power, but this year has shown that our voice can be a scream that catches the attention of many.
This August (coinciding with the UN International Youth Day on Transforming Food Systems) it will be a year since I joined Bite Back 2030, a movement that has provided youth with a platform to speak about the value we should all be placing on young people’s health. It has inspired me to not be afraid of speaking about the prominent issues in our society that get quickly stomped and forgotten about. Once one person comes forward fighting for change, many others will join. Bite Back 2030 has ignited the fight for many. If we, young people, come together to fight for our health, we will be able to put healthy food options in the spotlight for once.
Bite Back 2030 is a prime example of what young people aspire for our society to achieve: to have healthy, nutritious food placed in the centre stage, and for every child to have access to good food. Young people have become tired of ineffective short-term solutions; we yearn for a long-term commitment from the government, large corporations, and businesses to put child health first.
Young people feel bombarded by the volume of junk food adverts online, in high streets and on TV. They want to see healthy options being given a starring role in kids’ minds instead. Meanwhile, children and families are up against a flood of unhealthy food pouring out of supermarket shelves and school canteens. The voice of young people is crucial if we are going to convince those that can, to close the floodgates.
We, as young people, are key agents of transformational change in society, especially in the food system. One campaign that showcases the influence and power of young people from Bite Back 2030 is #AdEnough, which shone a light on the importance of preventing young people from being targeted by the ad industry. This campaign played a fundamental part in the UK Government ending junk food advertising online from 2023. Prime Minister Boris Johnson listened to Bite Back’s young people and announced that he would prioritise child health. Our extensive research found that every single second in the UK, 500 junk food adverts go out that are seen by children. The result is we feel overwhelmed by the 15 billion junk food ads put out every year online. At Bite Back 2030, we believe all young people should have the opportunity to be healthy, no matter where they live, and that young people are pivotal to redesigning the food system to put young people’s health first.
Since I joined Bite Back, my voice no longer feels like an echo. Instead, my voice has become a tool for change, which inspires others to fight for the inequalities present in the food system. Young people are filled with passion, purpose and are perceptive. We need to ensure that we help them fulfil their potential of being grand change makers who will improve the food system and beyond for this generation and those in the future.
The voice of young people has mattered, does matter, and will matter, for we are the instruments for significant change to come.
About the author:
17 year old Emily Yanchuk, is Vice Chair of Bite Back 2030’s Youth Board. She is a keen public speaker and wants to work on boosting the confidence of young people by making their voices on food insecurity heard. Emily thinks her involvement with Bite Back is a “great opportunity to participate in further legitimisation for change and to be able to fight for equality and justice” Emily balances her work with Bite Back with full time studies.