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Making Connections - Food Day 2013

Why Real Food?

My journey down the "real food rabbit hole" began in September 2012 when I grabbed the wheel of our family food van and drove us off the processed food highway.  My mission?  To help my daughter reign in her social, attention and academic issues at school.  I started a blog called "themullies" to serve as my online diary to help us persevere and "get over" the processed/fake foods we loved to eat in our house.  The result?  Our 6-week trial food change became a permanent one when in less than two weeks, all of Abbie's symptoms disappeared and she began her steep climb to finish her 1st grade year exceeding academic expectations!

Becoming a Food Ambassador and Building a Team

Without hesitation, I applied to be a Food Ambassador for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last November when I realized the connection between real food, school food and academic success.  Our school district administrators and staff had been working tirelessly to help Abbie succeed in school.  She had been receiving intensive pull out interventions since Kindergarten and changing her food was the catalyst that changed the "game"- Her confidence, test scores and academic performance skyrocketed.  Could there be more Abbie's out there?  Could I help reverse the direction of our District's test scores?  Intent on making small changes, I set out to tell my story and build a team to spread a "real food waterfall" in my community.  I recruited a local chef and business owner turned girlfriend, Briana Cardone to help me get the word out about our first annual Food Revolution Day Community Picnic last May.  In addition, my longtime girlfriend and local Stevenson High School Family and Consumer Studies teacher, Christina Erickson joined us in September as a Food Ambassador.  Food Revolution Mundelein expanded into Food Revolution Lake County

Food Day 2013 & The Big Apple Crunch

Food Revolution Lake County & Chicago kicked it into gear for Food Day on October 24th.  Christina Erickson hosted a fruit and vege tasting at her daughter's elementary school.  She led them in trying a variety of raw vege such as beets, radish, apple, kale (raw and chips), rainbow carrots and prickly pear.  "The kids really liked the samples and many ate things that at first they didn't want to try.  Many even asked for seconds on lots of things!  I made a worksheet for the kids to circle if they liked it or not so they could bring it home and ask their parents to buy it!"  In addition, she and her co-worker Sarah Lohrman, organized a Gourmet Foods class to make lettuce wrap snacks for the SHS preschool children and talked about whole food nutrition with the students.  The SHS foods classes helped lead a healthy stir-fry demonstration with Sodexo Food Service and gave out samples to the entire student body.  Students took the Food Day pledge and were provided links to the Food Day Free Cookbook and 20 Songs for a Healthier America.  They went through more than 150 pounds of fresh vegetables for the stir-fry!  Christina commented, "My favorite part was when the students told the Sodexo manager that they want the stir fry as an everyday option.  It just goes to show that even high school students want healthy lunch options!"

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Christina Erickson prepares for her vege tasting & the kids loved it!

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Stevenson High School gets into Food Day with a stir-fry demonstration in the cafeteria and a Food Day Pledge Display!

Meanwhile, Briana Cardone, Sarvin Haghighi (A Chicago Ambassador) and I brought NYC's Big Apple Crunch to our communities & schools.  Briana's restaurant, Mambo Italiano, donated apples to each student at the Vernon Hills Goddard School and she put together Food Day goodie bags for the entire school.  Sarvin hoped to get her apples out to the burbs, but when her schedule changed, she donated her 45 apples to the Heartland Alliance in Chicago.  I collected enough apple donations to cover the entire Diamond Lake School District 76.  Huge thanks go out to Whole Foods Market Kildeer, All Ways Healthy Natural Foods and Preferred Meal Systems for donating over 1300 apples!  With the help of administrators and staff, each of the three school's lunch periods participated with a simultaneous apple crunch intent on breaking a world record.  The students were thrilled to crunch together and bob their heads to the 20 Songs for a Healthier America.  Each student even went home with the Food Revolution's Apple Card to learn a little more about the tasty fruit.  Last but not least, I gathered a bunch of kiddos and cooked up a storm using the Food Day Cookbook.  I hope my mullies Food Day blogpost inspires you to get cooking with your kids and have epic nights in the kitchen too!

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Briana Cardone donated apples, packed real food goodie bags and led her daughter's school in the Big Apple Crunch.

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Sarvin Haghighi and her Food Day apple donations.

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Diamond Lake School Students love the Big Apple Crunch!

Food Day was a huge success all around!  I am so proud to have been able to take part in the "celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food" and am extremely grateful to be a part of a local team working to spread this important message.  Big thanks and congrats to CSPI for putting on such a successful and coordinated event across the nation.   Let's keep connecting and working towards making every day a Food Day in 2014!

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Lindsey's Food Day table at her District's annual 5k Diamond Dash Event.

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