U.S. Mayors Group Declares October 24 Food Day
Activities on October 24 to Mobilize Support for Better Food Policies
June 20, 2012
America's mayors have formalized their support for Food Day— the nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Meeting in Orlando last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution declaring October 24 as Food Day and urging all mayors to participate. The move comes as Food Day organizers are planning thousands of events from coast to coast ranging from food festivals, film screenings, candidate forums, debates, farm-to-school events, and supermarket tours.
"Food Day is an important event that addresses some of the critical problems facing many cities in America—accessibility and affordability of fresh food," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "When healthy, locally grown food is readily available, it can reduce obesity and hunger, improve eating habits among residents, and expand the local economy. I support the national Food Day resolution and the principles of Food Day."
"I am very pleased that the U.S. Conference of Mayors stands behind Food Day," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, chairman of the organization's food policy task force. "Every day, more of our nation's mayors are joining the food revolution to put more healthy and local food into city neighborhoods and schools."
"Mayors are increasingly taking the lead by setting up food policy councils, promoting urban farming and gardening, adopting policies that promote healthy eating, and otherwise improving the food environment in America's cities," said Michael F. Jacobson, Food Day founder and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It makes perfect sense that they're among those leading the charge for Food Day."
The mayors of Baltimore, Los Angeles, Providence, St. Louis, and University City, MO, joined Menino and Nutter in sponsoring the resolution.
Launched by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and supported by a diverse advisory board, Food Day brings together organizations and individuals who care about food issues as varied as hunger, nutrition, agriculture policy, animal welfare, and farmworker justice. Some 2011 Food Day events were large in scale, such as a festival in Savannah, GA, with 7,000 attendees, or a Times Square Eat In, attended by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, chef Mario Batali, and grassroots food activists. Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Christine Lahti narrated a short video about Food Day which has footage from that event. Others were organized by hundreds of community groups, college campuses, and schools. Students at Rabbit Creek elementary school in South Anchorage, AK, participated in a taste test comparing locally grown carrots to out-of-state carrots.
In Austin, TX, this year, organizers are planning a citywide celebration focusing each of five days on a different Food Day priority. The planning committee, led by representatives from The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and The Wellgro Co., is collaborating with a wide range of local organizations including the Sustainable Food Center, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Edible Austin, Capital Area Food Bank, Slow Food Austin, and the University of Texas at Austin.
"We are all so grateful to be a part of the second Food Day here, raising awareness for food that is raised and grown in a manner consistent with the principles of treating our local farmers, cooks, and laborers fairly and kindly," said T. Marshall Jones, executive director of The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.
This year, Food Day will take place just 12 days before the 2012 elections, and organizers expect that it will provide an opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard on, and for candidates to discuss, important food policy issues.
Food Day's 2012 advisory board includes author Michael Pollan; prominent physicians Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Roizen, David Kessler, and David Satcher; nutrition authorities Kelly Brownell, Walter Willett, and Marion Nestle; urban agriculture proponent Will Allen; Food Network host Ellie Krieger; environmentalist and author Laurie David; chefs Dan Barber, Barton Seaver, and Alice Waters; World Food Day USA Founder Patricia Young, and a number of members of Congress.
Food Day, on October 24, falls eight days after World Food Day, the global anti-hunger event sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which occurs every October 16. Organizers hope that schools, churches, and other organizations can use all of the days in between to conduct activities focused on hunger, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and other food issues.