"Real Food, Just Food" is Theme for 4th Annual Observation

More than 650,000 students in Chicago, Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Minneapolis, Omaha, and St. Paul will enjoy a locally sourced meal of chicken drumsticks, potatoes or corn, and apples in celebration of Food Day as part of a partnership with School Food Focus. That's just one of many of the partnerships taking place on or around Oct. 24, the fourth annual Food Day. Around the country, more than 8,000 events, including festivals, film screenings, and massive apple crunches, will mark the occasion. Many events will shed light on issues of food justice, including access to healthy food and the treatment of farm and food workers. Other events will take place on university campuses, in public school systems, in restaurants, at farmers markets, and online.

Coordinated by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day aims to inspire people to change their diets for the better and to build momentum for improved food policies.

In Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Museum will hold a Food Day Harvest Festival on Oct. 25, featuring hands-on, family-friendly activities including cooking demonstrations by cookbook author and television host Ellie Krieger. The festival is part of the Food: Our Global Kitchen exhibit, which opened Oct. 16. On Oct. 24, Food Day founder Michael Jacobson will moderate a panel discussion at the National Press Club convened by the Food Chain Workers Alliance and other organizations. Speakers will include author Barry Estabrook (Tomatoland) and Community to Community executive director Rosalinda Guillen, U.S. winner of the 2014 World Food Sovereignty Prize.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is inviting consumers, farmers and ranchers, fisherman, social justice advocates, and other stakeholders to the State House on Food Day to learn more about a new Massachusetts Food Systems Plan. Throughout the state, events are being organized by the state Department of Agriculture and other agencies.

"Our communities are healthier when families have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy, whole foods," said Governor Patrick. "Using Food Day to link our farmers to our schools, our seniors, and our underserved communities is a big win for everyone involved."

New York City will see a Big Apple Crunch at locations all over the city, with a flagship event at Union Square. Event organizer GrowNYC hopes to top a record set last year when 1 million New Yorkers bit into apples at the same time.

"Food Day is a great day for people to improve their own diets," said Food Day founder and CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Switching from soda to seltzer, say, or switching from candy and chips to fruit and nuts. But even more exciting is the prospect of mayors, legislators, governors, and other officials using Food Day as a launching pad to solve food-related problems in their communities."

In Phoenix, AZ, Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, and Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman will lead Food Day activities with FitPHX and Maricopa County. More than 75 exhibitors will showcase local food samples and supply nutrition information, gardening tips, and fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Mayor Stanton will lead an Apple Crunch at noon.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is scheduled to address the Food Day festival in Providence, RI, held at that city's Burnside Park. Students from Brown University and Johnson and Wales University are staffing the festival, which will have the participation of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Lifespan Community Health, and local businesses and farms.

Food Day celebrations will spill into November this year as Savannah, GA, celebrates with a massive festival at the city's Daffin Park on November 2. Organizers expect many of Savannah's top musicians, well over 100 exhibitors and vendors, and a farmers market. For the fourth year in a row this will likely be the largest Food Day event drawing, 10,000 to 15,000 people.

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) serves as honorary co-chair of Food Day, alongside Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Online, groups such as the American Public Health Association, Slow Food USA, Union of Concerned Scientists, James Beard Foundation, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will participate in a five-hour-long Twitter conversation from noon to 5 p.m. ET on food justice, public health, agricultural policy, and other topics, using the #FoodDayChat hashtag.

"I hope people use Food Day as a time to try new things, to patronize new, local food businesses, and to support the work that so many activists and entrepreneurs are doing to improve the food environment in our communities," said Gail Simmons, Food & Wine's special projects director and permanent judge on Bravo's Top Chef. "We need the whole country to be engaged in the food movement, and Food Day is a way to help get us there."