It’s not that hard to be part of a transformation of the Massachusetts food system. You only have to participate in the third annual Food Day on Oct 24. More than 600 activities will take place that day and throughout the week. You can attend, say, a street fair, learn about a seed-saving library, watch a documentary on hunger in America, get healthy eating tips, or attend a community potluck dinner. Many events are free or inexpensive.
The nationwide Food Day was started two years ago by the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group focused on health and nutrition. CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson will be present at festivities here (in addition to Washington, D.C., and Georgia) because, he says, “the Massachusetts agriculture department has done a great job in organizing activities around the state.” Rose Arruda of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is coordinating the statewide campaign, making connections between “an amazing cross section,” she says, tapping into diverse groups that include activists and growers. Last year, Massachusetts had the largest Food Day in the country with more than 500 activities.
Agricultural Resources Commissioner Greg Watson calls Food Day an effective way to learn about food system issues because, he says, “It’s a place where the dialogue continues and you get reinforced.” Watson will visit City Growers in Dorchester; urban growers, he says, are “a relatively new but important player in the whole food system.” He will also visit the Greater Boston Food Bank, where the New England Dairy Council will announce the results of the “Great Gallon Give” campaign, which invited consumers to donate a gallon of milk to local food banks by purchasing vouchers at participating Stop & Shop stores.
Many of this year’s activities reflect a growing awareness of food security, healthful eating, and sustainability. Here are some highlights.
Babson College will screen “A Place at the Table,” a 2012 documentary about hunger, on Oct. 23. Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness director Karen Spiller will take part in the discussion. On Oct. 24, Brandy H.M. Brooks of BCFF will be a featured speaker in the webinar “Food Policy 101: Expanding Healthy Food Access.”
General Assembly, an educational institution offering programs and workshops in technology, business, and design, will host “Connected Food” at Workbar, the shared office space in Cambridge, on Oct 23. Adam Salomone of Harvard Common Press will moderate a discussion with local sustainable food innovators. (See related story, Page 16.)
The city of Somerville will host a variety of events, including a viewing of the documentary “Saving the Seed,” about farmers in Honduras, with a discussion of Somerville’s Seed Lending library on Oct. 17 at SCAT TV. There will also be volunteer gardening at South Street Farm, a street party on Oct. 20, and a health fair at the Council on Aging (Holland Street Center) on Oct. 24.
Marianne T. Fullam, senior nutritionist for the Lowell Women, Infants, and Children program, knows low-income moms and babies first-hand. “I am out in the community a lot,” she says, “health education is one of the areas that needs so much more work.” To address this issue, Fullam has collaborated with local organizations to plan a week of events such as “Eat Real and Get Fit With WIC” at the Lowell farmers’ market and shopping tips at Stop & Shop.
The Marion Institute in New Bedford will hold its annual “Connecting for Change” conference Oct. 25 to 27. Environmental, industry, and social justice innovators will lead participants in discussions and workshops (tickets available on a sliding scale).
Weymouth Mayor Susan Kay, along with South Shore Hospital and Mass in Motion, will promote the “Healthy Wey” campaign on Oct. 24 with special menu items at participating restaurants, a farmers’ market, and healthy food displays at local libraries.
Worcester will kick off a weeklong celebration on Oct. 19 with a free family-friendly festival and farmers’ market at the YMCA Family Park. The event will feature food and activities, including health and wellness information.