On Food Day, Nation Celebrates Real Food, Casts Light on Food Injustices

Real Food Day CSPICommunities all over the country will gather on or around Friday, October 24, for Food Day, an annual celebration to help draw attention to food justice issues, such as access to healthy food and the treatment of farm and food workers. This year’s theme, “Real Food, Just Food,” will be the focus of an array of events, from food festivals to film screenings.

This is the fourth year that Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)—a nonprofit advocacy group educating consumers about nutrition, food safety and other health-related issues—has coordinated Food Day. U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA5) serve as honorary co-chairs of Food Day.

“Food Day events and activities are designed to foster honest discussion, deeper knowledge and progress toward addressing critical topics in food, agriculture and nutrition — spanning the food chain from farm families to family tables,” wrote DeLauro and Harkin in a recent column for The Huffington Post.

Food Day Founder Michael Jacobson, executive director and founder of CSPI, will moderate a food justice panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Friday, from 9 a.m, to 11:30 a.m. The panel includes Food Chain Workers Alliance Associate Director Jose Oliva, Ricardo Salvador of Union of Concerned Scientists, and Community to Community Executive Director and domestic winner of the 2014 World Food Sovereignty Prize, Rosalinda Guillen, as well as Tomatoland author Barry Estabrook, who also co-produced the documentary about farm labor exploitation, Food Chains.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is inviting folks to the state house in Boston to learn about the new Massachusetts Food Systems Plan. New York City is hosting a citywide celebration called the Big Apple Crunch, where the community gathers at noon to bite into an apple. Here in Connecticut, a local YMCA is holding a 7 p.m. screening Friday of the documentary Fed Up, about the health consequences of the confusing and misleading food industry. Afterward, there will be panel discussion with a farmer, food service director, a food share representative, teen sustainable food system advocates and food system workers.

Area schools are also getting involved by leading Eat Real Challenge weeks and holding student-run farmers markets. “October is National Farm to School Month so student-run farmers’ markets and Food Day activities are a natural fit to celebrate, while helping to teach children life-long lessons about healthy food and where it comes from,” Liz Isaacs, one of the chairs of Growing Great Schools’ Farm to School committee in West Hartford, Conn. “Kids are often more likely to try fresh fruits and vegetables when they learn about where they come from and their benefits. And when we buy from farms in our community we support the local economy.”

Growing Great Schools also made the commitment last year to donate $600 at each seasonal market toward food bags to be sent home with children of families in need. By doing so, the organization aims to help provide equal access to healthy food to all children in the district.

“Food Day…reminds us that even here, in the world’s richest nation, about one in seven households suffer food insecurity, meaning that the family’s diet is impaired or limited in some way, with even higher rates in households with children,” wrote wrote DeLauro and Harkin. Healthy and fresh food choices are unfortunately not as readily available in all geographic location for all income levels, which is where the congresswoman and senator feel public policy can play a great role.

In addition to helping draw attention to the practical steps one needs to take to enhance nutrition and health, the politicians applaud the objectives of Food Day to increase access to safe and healthy food, as well as enhance opportunities for local farming communities to produce food, while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.

“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,” Gail Simmons, Food & Wine’s special projects director and permanent judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, said in a Food Day press release. “We need the whole country to be engaged in the food movement, and Food Day is a way to help get us there.”

How You Can Get Involved

Do you want to get involved in Food Day 2014?  Food Day offers these five ways to do so:

Here are five ways you can participate from wherever you are:

1. Attend a Food Day event — Check out the Food Day national map and plug in your zip code to find details about Food Day events near you.

2. Join the #FoodDayChat Twitter Chat — 5 hours, 5 topics: Particulate in the online conversation about food justice, public health, food policy, and more, with groups like the American Public Health Association, Slow Food USA, Union of Concerned Scientists and James Beard Foundation. This online event is hosted by @FoodDay2014 at twitter.com/FoodDay2014, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 24. Follow and use hashtag #FoodDayChat to participate.

3. Thunderclap – Register your social media account for the #FoodDay2014 Thunderclap to add your voice to support real and just food for all.  The more people who sign up, the bigger the impact we can make!

4. Food Literacy Quiz —  Share the Food Day Food Literacy Quiz and encourage your network to take it on Food Day.

5. #FoodDayPlate — Participate in the #FoodDayPlate contest on social media by sharing a photo of your healthy or sustainable meal on Food Day! Use hashtag #FoodDayPlate to participate.

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