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Celebration as a Tool in Building a Food Movement - Food Day Worcester

One of our goals as a coalition is “Celebrate”.  Of course we also aim to “Educate, Advocate and Collaborate”.  But celebrate is just as important for building a food movement.  And so when Food Day was established, we knew it was the perfect way to fulfill our goal to celebrate together, while also educating, advocating and collaborating. Worcester-20121020-00519.jpg

Celebration allows us to focus on our city’s assets, our relationships, and the undeniable value of community.  This year during our second annual Food Day celebration we were able to bring together more partners, get more attendees at our events, and really highlight how far we’ve come as a city and as a movement, even just over the past year.  Worcester, Massachusetts is already a city that collaborates extremely well, and the success of this year’s Food Day events highlights just that. 

To give you a little taste (pun definitely intended!) of the awesomeness that occurred from October 20th – October 25th, here are some of the public and private events that we were able to work together on:

  • A Food Day Celebration at an already established farmers’ market that is located in the heart of Worcester that attracted about 800 people and featured nutrition professionals, WIC & SNAP sign-up support, food preservation, home composting, pumpkin painting, a scavenger hunt, herbal remedies, and cooking, not to mention musical performances by an acapella quartet, a youth stomp group, capoiera and more!
  • An all-day film festival at Worcester State University where each session was packed, and Chartwells, the schools food service, provided grass-fed beef burgers, free range chicken, local fresh raw veggies and more.  Each movie was followed by a local speaker that talked about their role in the food movement.  Also, the REC Mobile Farmers’ Market was present for that day, giving folks a chance to learn about and tour the new market as well as make purchases.
  • An all-you-can-eat Local Foods Lunch Buffet at Clark University, open to the public. 
  • A screening and discussion of “The Weight of the Nation” at one of the city’s high schools.
  • A potluck lunch for the staff of a large community health center.
  • A garlic planting at the school gardens throughout the city.
  • Kindergartens at five schools that are part of the MA Farm to School Kindergarten Initiative had lots of lesson plans focused on Food Day, and each student took home recipe cards. 
  • The launching of a marketing effort highlighting the local fruits and vegetables in the public school lunch.

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As you can imagine, with a series of events that brings together business, non-profits, school, universities, health care, residents, and more, the whole is really greater than the sum of its parts.   I could list all the new partnerships developed and imagine a whole host of ways these new relationships will help fuel our local movement for a health and just food system for all, but I won’t – just know that they are many, and the excitement we feel about it would be evident if you could see just how fast my fingers are typing as I think about it.  We’re already dreaming of Food Day 2013 as well as the many events and initiatives we can begin working on NOW that we’ll then be able to highlight in 2013.  Food Day is a great way to inspire a whole new generation of real food advocates! 

Liz Sheehan Castro is the Project Manager for the Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council in Worcester, MA. Liz's work is fueled by a passion for creating a fair and sustainable food system for all, not to mention a love for all things involving the growing, cooking, eating and sharing of good food.  Liz lives in Worcester with her husband Fernando and their baby boy, Kayani, a little foodie in the making.  


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