Food Day a success: celebrating our health, our environment, our food, and our country

October 24th has come and gone, but already, Food Day is being hailed as a fantastic success around the country. Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, Food Day is a nationwide event that brings attention to steps every American can take to eat healthier, affordable, and sustainable food.

Food Day luncheon in Times Square. (Photo credit: Marion Nestle, Food Politics)

Following the successful conclusion to this year’s Food Day, Michael F. Jacobson, Food Day’s founder and the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, “Food Day captured the imagination of so many Americans—inspiring them to improve their diets and push for a food system that is just, fair, sustainable, and nourishing…As an annual event, Food Day will make the food movement more formidable, more united, and better positioned to fix the problems that plague our food system.”

Over 2,200 events were held in all 50 states, including: Times Square, New York City; Anchorage, Alaska; Jackson, Mississippi; and Tucson, Arizona.  Food Day has not only brought public attention to the food crisis occurring in the United States, but has strengthened partnerships with local community groups around the country, and given state and local governments the platform to help spearhead new and innovative public policies.

 Some of the many highlights included a marquee event in Times Square, where New York City Health Commissioner Tom Farley announced a renewed effort in the city’s campaign to reduce consumption of soda and other sugary beverages. Attendees included restaurateur Mario Batali, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and nutrionist Marion Nestle, along with several dozen New York City food activists. Ellie Krieger, renowned Food Network Host, prepared a healthy, affordable and sustainable meal for guests. During the meal half a dozen giant electronic screens carried Food Day messages and pictures.

In Potsdam, NY, 250 students from 30 school districts participated in a youth summit to talk about such food issues as marketing and advertising, farming, and school gardens.  Farther north, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick harvested food for hunger relief efforts and helped launch a Massachusetts Gleaning Project, while Mayor Thomas Menino gave a “State of the Food Union” address at Tufts University.  And in Maine, Rep. Chellie Pingree announced a new bill to assist small and mid-sized farms.

Food Day wasn’t only being celebrated on the East Coast. In Springfield, MO, a fundraiser was held for the Ozarks Food Harvest food bank, with over 1500 people participating. The fundraiser produced almost 750 pounds of food for donation.

In Los Angeles, LA County Health Director Jonathan Fielding and Let’s Move to School  Chef Giovanni Delrosario used the occasion to promote healthier school breakfasts.  And Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Food Policy Council coordinated healthy cooking demonstrations, film screenings, and other events throughout the city.  “Many Angelenos are successfully working to make a meaningful difference in our local food system, particularly in ways that assist those residents most in need of healthy nutrition,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.  “This is especially important for Angelenos who live in neighborhoods where healthy foods are harder to find, which puts them at greater risk for obesity and diabetes.”

Through hard work, collaboration, and grassroots support, Food Day was able to positively affect the lives of millions Americans.  As organizations, communities, and individuals continue to work towards next year’s Food Day, October 24th could become the call to arms on improving our health and our food, not only in the U.S., but around the world.

What Food Day activities did you participate in? Share your stories!

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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