Americans Come Together at 3,200 Food Day Events

woman at a farmers market -

Second Annual Food Day is Wednesday, October 24

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will observe Food Day by leading the city in an effort to set a world record for the "Most Participants in an Apple-Crunching Event." Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick will celebrate Food Day with local students and members of his cabinet at the Hayley House Café in Roxbury, Mass. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will announce new food policies for their cities. And at more than 3,200 large, medium, and small events today and this week, Americans will be gathering together to celebrate healthy, affordable, and sustainable food—and to push for improved food policies in their communities.

"Through innovative partnerships, we are expanding access to healthy, fresh and locally grown food and protecting the land and water resources essential to sustain local food production," said Governor Patrick. "I am proud to join students and advocates who share our mission of engaging communities in bringing sustainable, affordable food systems to all of our residents."

In its second year, Food Day is coordinated by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest with the backing of dozens of state and national partner organizations and an advisory board led by members of Congress, nutrition authorities, physicians, chefs, writers, and advocates for sustainable agriculture, farmworker justice, and animal welfare.

"All around the country, people are coming together to make a change for the better, whether it's a positive change in their own diet, or a change for the better in the food policies of a campus, a business, a city, or a state," said Food Day founder and CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "It's exciting to see so many diverse events and so much momentum building for a food system that is healthy, environmentally sustainable, and fair for all."

This morning, at the Haven Academy charter school in the Mott Haven neighborhood in New York City's South Bronx, officials from the city, the New York Foundling, and Bolthouse Farms will cut a ribbon on a new rooftop garden and outdoor educational space. The school, located in the poorest Congressional district in the country, serves at-risk children in the foster care and child welfare system. Cookbook author and television host Ellie Krieger, who serves on the Food Day advisory board, will give a healthy, interactive cooking lesson for the students, showing them how to prepare a vegetable salad with wheat berries, quinoa, and brown rice.

"Good food is a cornerstone of our well-being as individuals and as a nation," Ellie Krieger said. "Food Day is a time to celebrate and support it—a day to get together to foster healthy change in our eating habits and our food systems."

In Washington, D.C., this evening, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is hosting a conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on the Future of Food: 2050, during which panelists from Wal-Mart, the Worldwatch Institute, the Institute for Alternative Futures and other organizations will speculate on what diets and agriculture might look like by the middle of the century. (Attendees will Tweet using the #FOF2050 hashtag.)

For the second year in a row, perhaps the biggest Food Day event will be the massive festival scheduled for this coming weekend in Savannah, GA. The city's Daffin Park will see 10,000 people enjoy food, music, exhibitors, and kids' activities.

"Through the cooperation of the entire county's public school system, several colleges and universities, and our own advisory board of nearly two dozen individuals representing their own organizations or businesses, we will be offering something for all members of the family," said festival organizer Rene Teran, publisher of Well FED Savannah magazine.

Some organizations are using Food Day to publish research findings. The Food Labor Research Center, based at the University of California, Berkeley, along with the Food Chain Workers Alliance and the Restaurant Opportunities Center, are releasing a report finding that a proposal to raise the minimum wage would increase retail food prices for American consumers by at most 10 cents per day. The proposal, The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, sponsored by Food Day honorary co-chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Rep. George Miller (D-GA), would represent the first increase in the non-tipped minimum wage in five years and the first in 21 years for workers who receive tips.

Tens of thousands of college students at least 273 schools in 46 states are participating in Food Day with the leadership of the campus-based Real Food Challenge. Last night and today, students at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., are participating in lectures, discussions, and a meal led by the college’s entrepreneur-in-residence, Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, alongside Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan and Gail Simmons of Top Chef and Food and Wine. At Sacramento State, Food Day activities include kitchen demonstrations in the morning and afternoon, panel discussions, and a jamboree in the Library Quad. Topics include sustainability in fashion, agriculture and food production, and achievements and challenges in the school food environment.

Online, people can celebrate Food Day by taking the Eat Real Quiz and sharing their results on Twitter and Facebook. Sustainable Table is hosting a five-hour Twitter conference, with an hour focused on each Food Day priority (hashtag #FoodDayConf). At least two food-related films, including the Humane Society’s A Pig’s Tail and Anna Lappé's Food MythBusters, are having their premieres today.

In Seattle, the impact of Food Day will extend far beyond October 24.

"The action plan creates the path for our city's food future," said Mayor McGinn. "It will help strengthen our food economy, ensure that more people can grow food locally, and improve access to affordable healthy food."