What’s on your plate today? Here’s some food for thought: check out one of the more than 2,000 events planned across the country for Food Day. More than 30 governors and mayors have proclaimed October 24 as Food Day, including those in Colorado, Ohio, Oregon, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
Food Day, organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a handful of partners, is a nationwide grassroots mobilization for healthier diets and improved food policies.
“The typical American diet is promoting major health problems, causing serious environmental pollution, and unintentionally creating poor working conditions for those who harvest, process, and prepare our food,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in a statement. “It’s time to urge Americans to change their own diets for the better and to mobilize for desperately needed changes in food and farm policy.”
One of those partners is the Real Food Challenge. The Real Food Challenge, or RFC, aims to shift 20% — or about $1 billion — of college and university food purchases to local, sustainable, humane and fair trade sources by the year 2020. Today, in conjunction with Food Day, the RFC is launching its new GET REAL! Campaign that asks college and university presidents to sign a “Real Food Commitment” to shift at least 20% of their purchasing to real sources over the next 9 years.
“We believe this is the key to shifting $1 billion nationally and ultimately restructuring the food system in the country. College students have the ability to demand a shift in their dining halls from corporate food services to sustainable, just and ethical sources,” Tricia Kiefer, a 4th year student at Northeastern University and the RFC’s Food Day Campus Coordinator told me.
According to Kiefer, about 220 college and university campuses in 46 states and 5 countries are participating in Food Day. Events run the gamut from a film festival sponsored by FLO (Fair, Local, Organic) Club at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to a group at Florida State University called Eating With Your Eyes Open that has planned “real” food meals, classes focused on food issues and even a brass band devoting a set to songs about food issues.
Some of the other activities across the nation?
- Public schools across the nation are hosting Food Day events as part of National Farm to School Month.
- In Washington, DC, the National Archives is hosting a “Food Day Open House” in conjunction with its “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit.
- In Savannah, GA, organizers have planned a huge outdoor festival expected to draw around 15,000 attendees.
- In Bentonville, AR schools have planned five days of lessons about food.
- The University of California, San Francisco and the Hastings School of Law are hosting a conference on food deserts and the food served in prisons.
- New York City’s Times Square is home to an Eat Real “Eat In” featuring 50 leaders from the food movement including restauranteur Mario Batali, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, nutritionist Marion Nestle, and several dozen area food activists.
“Food Day is a national day to not only celebrate sustainable food, but also to make concrete change on a personal, campus, community and national level,” Kiefer said.
“As seen with the OWS protests our system is in crisis and a huge part of that is our food system. Our food system is so overarching and affects all aspects of society from workers, to the environment, to health and Food Day allows everyone to unite on common ground. Real food should no longer be the exception and Food Day is another step in that direction.”
Photo credit: peyri via flickr