The issue of food insecurity is one that is too familiar here in the United States. Recognizing this nationwide dire issue, the Center for Science in the Public Interest created Food Day, a nationwide event meant to highlight the importance of food availability, and enhance community investment in the health of local food systems.
In an effort to promote the availability of local food for all, the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition partnered with The Reader, the Omaha Farmers Market and other local vendors to organize our own Food Day celebration, held on October 11th on 11th and Howard Street. “Our food day is celebrated during the end of harvest season and during the wind down of the farmers market,” said Craig Howell, coordinator for the Hunger Collaborative. “It is a celebration of our local foods and our commitment to promote our local food and vendors.”
The national priorities of the Food Day movement include the promotion of healthy diets, supporting sustainable and organic farms, reforming factory farms, and supporting the working conditions of food and farm workers. For the Omaha Food Day, the celebration will focus on the importance of food availability. “Food Day is a celebration for all ages, races, income levels, and zip codes,” said Howell. “When we promote and encourage a strong local food system, we all win.”
With “Eat Real” as the national line, Food Day participants can expect to lean plenty about the issue of food insecurity in Omaha, along with other fun activities from a variety of venders and farmers with samples to try and products to sell. “This year’s event will have a focus on local and farm to table restaurants and nutrition education,” said Howell. “There will also be local farmers and vendors to talk with, and we at the Hunger Collaborative will be available to talk about our work to end hunger.”
Food insecurity isn’t limited to the very poor; it is an issue that can permeate any class or family size. Urging community members to understand and care for this issue is one that Food Day organizers are hoping to address. “It is utterly, unnecessary and intolerable that we have children in our city that do not know where their next meal is coming from, said Howell. “We are not accepting that reality.”
Strength is found in numbers, and organizations like the Hunger Collaborative of Heart Ministry Center, Heartland Hope Mission, Together, and Food Bank of the Heartland are collaborating to bring this issue to light for all. “We are all leading sustainable change and committed to ending chronic reliance upon our food pantries by providing resources to people, access to nutritious foods, and addressing the root causes of food insecurity.”
Food + Toast
The Omaha Farmers Market has already opened the doors for availability by accepting SNAP benefits at the market. With Food Day, the market is being extended an extra week to run through October 20th. This event will also include Toast of the Old Market, a festival and restaurant tour celebrating everything wonderful about Omaha’s food scene.
Food Day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm with the Toast of Omaha running until 10 pm downtown. “Many, if not all, of our organizations committed to local food movements will be present,” said Howell. “This is an opportunity for people to taste fabulous food, learn about urban farming and community gardens, and lean how to get involved with local efforts to lift people out of poverty and find sustainable solutions to hunger.”
This year’s Food Day event is more than an opportunity to learn about good food; it’s about learning how to cultivate a healthy community. There is power in our food choices, and we can move mountains by helping our farmers, and therefore our community, by choosing local.