Coordinator, Rooted In Community National Network
San Francisco, California
Michelle Mascarenhas is the coordinator of Rooted In Community (RIC), a national grassroots network that empowers young people to take leadership in their own communities. RIC is a diverse movement of youth and adult counterparts who are committed to building healthy communities through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food security and related environmental justice work. She co-founded and directed the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College in Los Angeles until 2001. Since 1995, she has developed pilot programs, conducted policy analysis, and mobilized individuals and groups to advocate for access to healthy food and for community participation in policymaking. She helped to develop Farm to School models that led to a national Farm to School program sponsored by the USDA to encourage school districts to purchase from local farmers. In Los Angeles, she brought together parents, teachers and youth from low-income communities to advocate for policies to foster community gardens, farmers markets, healthy school food and citywide food access strategies. Michelle has a B.A. in History with a specialization in Women's Studies and an M.A. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her master's thesis examined the marketing strategies and employment practices of small organic and conventional farms in Santa Cruz County. From 1991-92, Michelle worked on the Home Gardens Nutrition Program in Lesotho, Southern AfricaÃ¢â‚¬”a program that helped to develop community gardens in conjunction with nutrition education at clinics, schools and in villages.She served on the board of directors of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers from 1997 to 2001 and was the Interim Executive Director in 2002. She has served on the steering committee of the California Nutrition Network since 1996. Michelle lives, gardens and cooks in a collective household in San Francisco.