Monday, October 18, 2010

Food Activism on the Move

I don't know if I can even begin to write down all of the work I have been doing lately. Amidst the new menu I finally got launched for Blue State Coffee (blog post coming soon), New Haven Food Policy Council work, a feast from the fields fundraiser for Common Ground School on their urban organic farm, (post also coming soon) a community meeting for the coming Elm City Market - food coop, parenting, and the first colds of the season, there has been more than too much to do, and an incredible amount of great local food activism going on. I don't have many good pictures from all of this since I have been far too busy being involved in it all, but wanted to share a little about this part of my food life, none the less. The sustainable food movement has been evolving and becoming more visible recently, so I thought I'd try and lay out some of the concrete ways this work happens on the grassroots level. 

a new food coop coming to New Haven, CT in the 360 State St building.

Photo credit: Thomas MacMillan, New Haven Independent 
community member Tambira Armmand speaking her mind at the community meeting

I had been hearing rumors of a new grocery store coming into the ground floor of this new high rise in downtown New Haven for much of this past year, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I knew anything concrete. I was invited along with a few dozen other community members, food folks, and community leaders to be part of a "core leadership team", a group of community members whose purpose is to help bring the community of New Haven into this new food coop, so that the store can be a resource to a wide cross section of New Haven and help to fill the needs of people of different cultural and economic backgrounds. I will do a whole post on this in a while, but if you want to check out some newspaper articles on the recent community meeting about the Market, check out the NH Register or the NH Independent.  There was  a great turnout at this meeting, and a fair amount of enthusiasm and healthy skepticism. Over all, my take is that it will be great to have a full service grocery store in New Haven and not have to drive to get to it, and I hope that a broad and diverse group of New Haven residents will shop there and become member/owners. If you care about food in New Haven, please get involved, and make this market ours. To become a member/owner of this new market/coop click here. There are a variety of ways to join, and it will help get the market open!

Mark Winne - national food and food policy activist

Mark Winne started the first Food Policy Council in the country in Hartford, CT. He ran the Hartford Food Systems organization, and now runs the Community Food Security Coalition, and consults nationally with food policy councils and similar groups.

Mark was in town as part of a panel on grocery stores hosted by the Yale Sustainable Food Project. The New Haven Food Policy Council also hosted an event at the main branch of the Public Library for the launch of his new book (pictured at right). We had a good turn out, and it was great to hear someone with as much experience over time as Mark has talk about our food system and it's successes and failures.

Mark also made time during the day to meet directly with the members of the New Haven Food Policy Council which I now chair. It was a very inspiring meeting, and we all came away from it with a lot of good ideas and inspiration about making the work we do more affective and visible. Thank you Mark!

CT Local Food Summit
Billings Forge & Wholesome Wave
Guest Speaker: Shira J. Gans, Manhattan Borough Presidents office

Following right on the heals of Mark Winne's talk, I headed up to Hartford the next morning for the CT local food summit hosted by Billings Forge and Wholesome Wave. It was a great gathering of about 50 of the key players in sustainable food in the state. Some good conversations and inspirational talks. It was great to make connections with people doing similar work in various parts of the state to share ideas and strategies. Hopefully some larger networks and change will come from it.

Shira Gans from the Manhattan Borough President's office was the keynote speaker, and hearing about all the forward thinking work they are doing and the huge staff they have was incredible. We are doing so much of the same work here, some of it inspired by NYC or other cities, and some of it emerging right from the roots of our own community. What is going on in NYC is pretty exceptional right now though, the leadership of the city is really pushing a good food agenda for all people.

Feast From the Fields
Common Ground School - dinner, fund raiser and auction

A wonderful fund-raising event at one of the most special places in town. For those of you who read this blog often, you have heard me gush about Common Ground School before: An urban charter school with an organic farm and tons of great community events and programs. Many Chefs came out to make the night a success. I had the honor of cooking the main meal together with Jason from Caseus and Rhonda from the Common Ground kitchen, using lots of produce from their garden. It was a thoroughly delicious night with a huge number of fabulous teens from the school who volunteered to work the whole party! And, we helped them raise $40,000. A blog post detailing the event coming soon.

Chefs Move to School and Health Heroes - TODAY - October, 20, 2010
A great event happening today, Wednesday Oct 20th. The launch of these two programs in New Haven will shepard in some great new energy into the schools to get kids (and teachers and parents) to eat healthier foods, get exposure to fresh veggies, gardens, and other healthy and delicious activities. I will be joining Chef Tim Cipriano for the local launch of the Obama's Chefs Move to Schools initiative in New Haven. For the simultaneous launch of Health Heroes in 4 New Haven public schools, we will be giving out 1,500 of the New Haven Cooks cookbook I developed with CitySeed to low income children and families as an incentive to enroll in the healthy living and eating program. If you are a chef, come down to the Barnard School Garden Wednesday morning at 10am, and wear your chef coat!  I'll follow up with a blog post soon...

Stay tuned for more on my crazy (but exciting) life in food. 

note: blogspot is messing up the post date and won't let me change it. This was posted on Wednesday morning October 20th. 

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