Making Every Day a Food Day

October 5, 2011

By Alison Hastings and Emily Lehman, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission with Amanda Wagner, City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Get Healthy Philly ProgramLaila Goldberg, The Food Trust, and Alethia Calbeck, Philly Homegrown.

As part of the first National Food Day on October 24, 2011, more than 50 Greater Philadelphia organizations have planned a series of events to celebrate buying, growing, or eating fresh food while highlighting the need to increase access to healthy, affordable foods.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest invited communities large and small across the country to observe Food Day and to “push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.”

It is hard to have just one day year to raise awareness about eating healthy, buying local, and recognizing all of the organizations and agencies that provide much needed support services, Greater Philadelphia decided to make Food Day into two weeks of Philadelphia Food Days. Organizations are choosing to observe Food Day anytime between October 15- 29. Events come in all shapes and sizes and for all different audiences.

Thanks to Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation‘s (GPTMC) Philly Homegrown program, over 80 events are listed on the Philadelphia Food Day Calendar of Events. At Food Day events, attendees can celebrate the fall harvest bounty with friends and neighbors, donate time to help those in need, learn more about local farms and gardens, and gain skills in preparing healthy food.

Below are just a few Food Day programs and events we think are worth watching. Many more are being added to the national Food Day website every day, including events at Rutgers-Camden and Drew University, both of which are participating in the Real Food Challenge.

One Last Party in the PHS Pops Up Garden

Monday, October 24, 2011, 11:00am to 2:00pm
20th and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA

This summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society transformed a 32,000 square foot vacant lot in Center City Philadelphia into its first ever “Pops Up” Garden. This temporary oasis demonstrated the organization’s year-round work in design, horticulture, sustainability and building healthy communities. The garden served as a meeting place for many downtown workers. Visitors could bring their lunch to the space, take a class on gardening, or simply take a quick stroll to smell the flowers and watch the vegetables grow.

Photo by M. McClellan for GPTMC

Several of Philadelphia’s top chefs from restaurants such as R2L and Barbuzzo, signed on to create dishes using the produce grown in the Pops Up garden. Proceeds from the dishes sold in their restaurants, went to supporting City Harvest, PHS’s program that provides fresh produce for underserved Philadelphia residents.

PHS has decided to leverage Food Day as an opportunity to close out the garden on October 24th, with a closing celebration, bringing their chef and community partners together for a last garden hurrah. Visitors to the garden will be treated to a free tasting of dishes from partner chefs and restaurants as well as a variety of fun garden activities. Other partner organizations, such as The Franklin Institute and SHARE Food Program, will be on hand to share information and join in on the celebration.

Get Healthy Philly’s Why the Farm Bill Matters

Monday, October 24, 2011, 4:00pm to 7:00pm
The Friends Center
1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA

If you eat food, then you are directly affected by the federal Farm Bill. This far-reaching legislation, which began during the Great Depression and created a safety net for struggling farmers, has since expanded to directly and indirectly impact what types of food are grown, how food is grown, and how much food costs.

Congress revisits the Farm Bill every 5 to 7 years and the 2012 Farm Bill is right around the corner. This time, it will be shaped significantly by a political climate averse to spending, an unprecedented demand for food assistance, and an ever-expanding chorus of new voices, such as public health professionals and food justice advocates, looking to be heard.

On Monday October 24, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Get Healthy Philly program will host “Why the Farm Bill Matters,” to explore how food policy affects access to affordable, healthy foods and the overall health of our communities. National and local guests include food systems writer Dan Imhoff, public health researcher Becca Klein, food justice advocate LaDonna Redmond, and the Philadelphia-based developers of the Youth Food Bill of Rights. Through presentations and a panel discussion, our guests will demonstrate that federal policy solutions do not have to be overwhelming and are relevant to our everyday lives.

The Food Trust’s October Fresh

Wednesday, October 26, 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Maria’s Grocery
5th and Cambria Streets, Philadelphia, PA

“Get your vegetables! Youth-grown vegetables! ¡Ven a buscar tus vegetales frescos! ¡Cultivados por jóvenes!” members of the Snackin’ Fresh Leadership Crew called out to passersby on the corner of 5th and Cambria this past summer at the youth farm stand the students were announcing. Shoppers in the north Philadelphia community enjoyed purchasing vegetables from neighborhood youth, talking to them about their garden and business, and thumbing through student created comic books that encourage healthy snacking.

Snackin’ Fresh is the youth component of The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a project that increases healthy food options in corner stores. The initiative boasts over 600 participating corner stores in Philadelphia, which are committed to providing customers with healthy food options like fresh vegetables, whole grain bread, and low-sodium canned products.

So where do the youth come in?

Snackin’ Fresh Leadership Crews, comprised of 6th to 8th grade students at local schools, develop and implement projects that motivate their peers to eat healthy, especially when shopping at corner stores. They highlight healthy options in stores, plan and lead school-wide events that encourage drinking water instead of sugary beverages, and make posters to hang in schools. Leadership Crews also plant gardens at their schools and nearby recreation centers. The gardens grow vegetables that the youth sell to nearby corner stores and at farm stands. Snackin’ Fresh youth learn about how to start and run a business in workshops provide by The Enterprise Center.

Even though the farm stands are over for the season, visitors still have a chance to meet Snackin’ Fresh youth at October Fresh event being held October 26th outside of Maria’s Grocery in Philadelphia. Snackin’ Fresh youth from nearby schools will sell youth-grown vegetables, talk to customers about their leadership crews and eating healthy, and will give away prizes for participating in healthy snack-themed games and correctly answering trivia questions.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and their partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog on issues of food policy and regional food systems.