Monday was the first time the nation celebrated Food Day, and PSFN was not to be left out! We collaborated with Public Health – Seattle & King County, The Real Food Challenge Northwest, and students at The University of Washington to spread the gospel of local food for institutional food service!
Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and “backed by an impressive advisory board that includes anti-hunger advocates, physicians, authors, politicians, and leaders of groups focused on everything from farmers markets to animal welfare to public health, seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” Food Day 2011 paraded six tenets linking the importance of food’s connection to community and global health and wellness. The priorities of National Food Day 2011 were to:
- Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
- Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
- Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
- Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
- Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
- Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
In an effort to address these priorities on a local and, ultimately, global scale PSFN partnered with students involved in the Real Food Challenge at the University of Washington to help muster student and campus support for more Real Food on campus, that is, food that is locally produced and community based, and verifiably produced in ways that are fair to humans, humane to animals, and ecologically sound. PSFN has been partnering with the Real Food Challenge since June in an effort to connect more food producers in Northwest Washington with college and university food service in our region. The University of Washington has been a leader in this effort so far, and we were ecstatic to partner with UW students for Food Day!
Student leaders hosted two Food Day events on Monday, first tabling for Real Food Challenge outside the library. Of course the best way to attract college students to a tabling event on campus is to offer FREE FOOD, and PSFN did just that! PSFN members and NABC-affiliated producers graciously donated wonderful, ‘real’ product samples for the event. Students devoured 3 Sisters’ uncured pepperoni, Twin Brook Creamery‘s delicious chocolate milk, Skagit Fresh’s wonderful seasonal apple cider, and Belly Timber’s easy-to-pack “survival bars”, recently picked up by REI to be sold in major stores across the country! Students loved having the opportunity to sample these high quality, locally produced, and community based foods that one day (with enough student support) could end up in retail and dining facilities on the UW campus!
Students in the Real Food Challenge student organization engaged their passerby peers in conversation about the possibilities of getting more Real Food on campus, offering each student the opportunity to participate in a “photo-petition” wherein each student could express their specific, individual want for food on campus. Students said they wanted to see, “FRESH greens!” “More local options on campus,” “HAPPY BACON!” and “…for the food I HAVE to buy on campus to better reflect what I would choose to buy as an individual consumer off campus,” among other requests. Throughout the year, student leaders at UW and PSFN’s Emma Brewster, who’s serving as a Regional Field Organizer for the Real Food Challenge as part of her AmeriCorps term of service with NABC, will work with these students to voice their demands to university Housing and Food Services, and work with HFS to move UW forward in the quest for Real Food on campus.
Interested students were also asked to sign an endorsement of the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment, hot off the presses and officially released nationally on Food Day itself! The Campus Commitment, when signed by a university president (as has been done by St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota already!) affirms a school’s commitment to Real Food through the creation of campus food systems working group, the drafting of a campus food policy, and a pledge to purchase 20% Real Food annually for campus eateries by 2020. If all target school achieve this goal, the Real Food Challenge will move 1 Billion dollars of campus food expenditure to food produced locally and in ecologically sound, fair and just, and humane ways by 2020. On Monday, dozens of students signed their support for this commitment to be adopted at UW.
On Monday evening, in concert with a campus-wide sustainability summit, Real Food Challenge students co-hosted a Food Day film screening of the Seattle-based films Carbon Nation and Unwasted and through an intersession discussion tied the issues of climate change and environmental degradation depicted in the films to direct remedial Real Food action on campus. PSFN also provided samples of local, ‘real’ snacks from PSFN members for this movie event. More films will be shown throughout this week for the campus sustainability summit, and Real Food Challenge UW intends to attend those events and introduce Real Food campus sustainability priorities to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn who will attend a film screening on Thursday.
What a week! We’re so glad to be connected with such passionate students who won’t rest (literally – they got 3 hours of sleep Sunday night preparing for these events!) until their campus purchases and serves food responsibly grown in Northwest Washington. Check out Real Food Challenge Northwest on Facebook for updates about ongoing Food Day events at Western Washington University, The Evergreen State College, Washington State University, Everett Community College, Gonzaga University, Whitman College, and Eastern Washington University. All these schools have committed students working for Real Food on their campus.
Not bad for a first go, Food Day! We’re already looking forward to the 2nd annual National Food Day in 2012!