Food Day 2011 is Getting Cooking!
Thousands of Events on October 24 Will Encourage Americans to ‘Eat Real’
May 31, 2011
Communities around the country are gearing up for Food Day —a grassroots mobilization aimed at improving America’s food policies. Set for Monday, October 24, 2011, Food Day will see thousands of forums and celebrations from coast to coast aimed at promoting healthy diets and solving local communities’ food problems.
“Our food system is delivering up epidemic-levels of obesity and cardiovascular disease,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which, along with a prestigious advisory board, is spearheading Food Day. “And we’re paying billions of dollars in subsidies to farmers who don’t need them and little to those that do. We’re maximizing crop yields—and polluting our air and water with fertilizer, pesticides, and antibiotics—yet we haven’t ended hunger. Food Day will shine a light on solutions to these seemingly intractable problems.”
The broad outlines of Food Day are beginning to take shape:
• Events are being planned at the University of Vermont, University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, New York University, Stanford, Yale, Harvard School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, and other campuses;
• The American Medical Student Association is organizing Food Day activities around food deserts, hunger, and healthier diets;
• Syracuse, NY, is organizing a festival to celebrate local food and their rich cultural and ethnic diversity;
• The New Haven, Conn., Food Policy Council and community partners are organizing a city-wide cook-in and harvest festival;
• Philadelphia is planning a city-wide event focused on ending hunger and food deserts;
• Sioux City, IA, is planning for nearly 1,000 people to participate in activities at three cultural institutions; the highlight will be a major conference on how small and mid-size farmers can get their produce to market;
• The America the Beautiful Fund will provide plant and flower seeds in September for all Food Day coordinators to plant community gardens;
• California organizations are building a state-wide Food Day partnership to promote new food policies; and
• At FoodDay.org, Americans can now find Food Day events near them, or announce their own.
Food Day organizers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Washington office hope that the campaign will inspire Americans to organize events in schools, college campuses, houses of worship, hospitals, and even in private homes aimed at fixing America’s food system. A Food Day event could be as small as a parent organizing a vegetable identification contest at a kindergarten class—or as massive as a rally in a city park, with entertainment and healthy food. Health departments, city councils, and other policymakers could use Food Day to launch campaigns, hold hearings, or otherwise address communities’ food problems.
“Americans want a better and healthier food system,” said Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and a member of Food Day's advisory board. “Food Day can inspire Americans to make healthier food choices, but even better, Food Day will help promote changes in food and farm policies that will benefit health, the environment, and the people who grow, harvest, prepare, and serve America’s food.”
In Seattle, 100 public schools will observe Food Day with a special, healthy menu item. In that city Food Day enjoys the support of the mayor, the city council president, and other local officials. And, the University of Washington public health department will run an interdisciplinary symposium on the food system.
“Food Day is a great way to increase public awareness about the importance of good food to health, economic prosperity, and regional and national security,” said Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin who has spearheaded the Seattle Local Food Action Initiative.
Besides Jacobson, Food Day is led by honorary co-chairs Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and an advisory board that includes author Michael Pollan; former Surgeon General David Satcher; nutrition authorities Walter Willett, Kelly Brownell, and Nestle; public health expert Georges Benjamin; and chefs Dan Barber, Nora Pouillon, and Alice Waters.
National organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, American Public Health Association, Community Food Security Coalition, Earth Day Network, Farmers Market Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Prevention Institute, and Slow Food USA, along with many city- and state-level organizations, are publicizing Food Day or organizing events.