Food Day Message Reaches Millions!
Mayors, Governors Use Occasion to Accelerate Progress for Healthier Diets and Smarter Food Policies
From Times Square to Tucson, Food Day events across the country brought hundreds of thousands of Americans together at more than 2,300 events in all 50 states—representing the largest grassroots mobilization for improved food policies in history. Mayors, governors, legislators, and health officials observed Food Day by issuing proclamations, announcing new food policies, attending gleaning events on farms, and distributing free apples to commuters. Food Day inspired new partnerships among diverse organizations involved in hunger, nutrition, sustainability, and farm worker justice. And countless individuals simply celebrated with especially healthful home-cooked meals or potlucks with friends. Already, organizers are planning to make Food Day an even bigger success in 2012.
Started by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day is backed by dozens of local and national nonprofit organizations and an advisory committee comprised of leading voices for improved food policies. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) serve as honorary co-chairs of that committee. Food Day will be observed every October 24.
At a marquee event held in Times Square, New York City Health Commissioner Tom Farley announced a new phase in the city’s campaign to reduce consumption of soda and other sugary beverages, while attendees, including restaurateur Mario Batali, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, nutritionist Marion Nestle, and several dozen area food activists enjoyed a healthy, affordable and sustainable meal prepared by Food Network host Ellie Krieger. During the meal half a dozen giant electronic screens carried Food Day messages and pictures.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Bloomberg handed out apples to commuters in Queens and talked about Food Day on ABC’s The Chew. In Los Angeles, LA County Health Director Jonathan Fielding and Let’s Move to School Chef Giovanni Delrosario used the occasion to promote healthier school breakfasts. And Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Food Policy Council coordinated healthy cooking demonstrations, film screenings, and other events throughout the city.
“Many Angelenos are successfully working to make a meaningful difference in our local food system, particularly in ways that assist those residents most in need of healthy nutrition,” Villaraigosa said. “This is especially important for Angelenos who live in neighborhoods where healthy foods are harder to find, which puts them at greater risk for obesity and diabetes.”
In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick harvested food for hunger relief efforts and helped launch a Massachusetts Gleaning Project, while Mayor Thomas Menino gave a “State of the Food Union” address at Tufts University. And in Maine, Rep. Chellie Pingree announced a new bill to assist small and mid-sized farms.
“It’s just wrong that we would bail out the commercial banks and the investment banks and cut the food banks,” Menino said. “The Greater Boston Food Bank is one bank that should never fail.”
With thousands of food festivals, assemblies, debates on college campuses, and hundreds of restaurants offering special menus showcasing local ingredients, Food Day wasn’t just about government programs, but embraced celebration and education.
In Alaska, students at Rabbit Creek Elementary School in South Anchorage participated in a blind taste test comparing locally grown carrots to out-of-state carrots. (The students judged the Alaskan carrots to be superior by a two-to-one margin.) In Potsdam, NY, 250 students from 30 school districts participated in a youth summit to talk about such food issues as marketing and advertising, farming, and school gardens. In Omaha, Nebraska, 2,000 healthy breakfasts were delivered to local children, and on the campus of the University of California Berkeley, a whole-grain-themed picnic was typical of the several hundred campus-based events across the country.
In Seattle, an Eat Local Now dinner attracted hundreds to share local food and hear from Chef Greg Atkinson about how cooking, food, community, and justice can improve communities and the lives of individuals. Savannah, GA, a massive festival sponsored by Well FED Savannah magazine, the Savannah Chatham Food Policy Council, and other groups featured cooking demonstrations and other activities for children and families. In Springfield, MO, they held a fundraiser for the Ozarks Food Harvest food bank and had 1500 people participate, with about 750 pounds of food donated.
“Food Day captured the imagination of so many Americans—inspiring them to improve their diets and push for a food system that is just, fair, sustainable, and nourishing,” said Michael F. Jacobson, Food Day’s founder and the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “As an annual event, Food Day will make the food movement more formidable, more united, and better positioned to fix the problems that plague our food system.”
Food Day, like CSPI, is people-powered and accepts no funding from corporations or government grants, though businesses such as Dole Foods, Bolthouse Farms, Whole Foods Market, Cooking Channel, Epicurious, Disney, and Veria Living all participated.