By Lauren Ingeno
Foodies, rejoice: Thursday is Food Day, an annual celebration and nationwide movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food, organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and brought to George Washington University by the GW Urban Food Task Force.
The university is participating with a weeklong extravaganza of 14 events, including a healthy eating challenge, a lecture by a former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and a produce giveaway for low-income families.
“In the past, we’ve typically honored Food Day in a very small way. But this year we wanted to have some big events, and we thought of ways to really engage the community,” said Dawnita Altieri, co-chair of the Urban Food Task Force.
Part of the Urban Food Task Force’s mission is to recommend ways in which the university can support scholarship related to sustainable urban food policies and offer healthy, sustainable food choices to the GW community.
The week’s events will align with that mission, said Urban Food Task Force Chair Diane Robinson Knapp.
“In addition to promoting healthy eating to the GW community and beyond, these Food Day events highlight the many food- and nutrition- related activities in which GW faculty members and students are already engaged,” she said.
During the week, GW students, faculty and staff can join the Healthy Eating Passport Challenge. To participate, members of the GW community can download the Scavenger Hunt with Friends app on their smartphones and enter "Healthy Eating Passport Challenge" in the search bar, or they can receive a copy of the challenge by emailing GWfood@gwu.edu. Individuals gain points by participating in GW Food Day activities and by purchasing healthy produce at farmers’ markets throughout the District of Columbia.
Eight restaurants near the Foggy Bottom Campus—such as Capitol Grounds Coffee, Chop’t and Roti Mediterranean Grill—will offer a Healthy Eating Passport Challenge food item on their menus, which patrons can order to earn points. Each healthy food item was reviewed by Kim Robien, a registered dietitian and associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Services.
“It’s a fun way to get people to think about what they’re eating,” Ms. Altieri said.
Players with the most points will be invited to a healthy, nutritious dinner at the F Street House on Oct. 31.
A full list of participating vendors and their Passport Challenge items can be found by downloading the Scavenger Hunt smartphone app.
The Healthy Eating Passport Challenge will kickoff at University Yard at noon on Thursday, followed by the Apple Day Crunch at 12:15 p.m., when people across D.C. will bite into apples at the same time. For the second year, Whole Foods Market in Foggy Bottom has donated 20 cases of apples for the event.
David Kessler, former FDA commissioner and author of “The End of Overeating,” will deliver a speech in Jack Morton Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Kessler’s book chronicles a seven-year investigation about why humans cannot resist food.
While many of the Food Day events will center around education, the Urban Food Task Force also wants to reach out to the D.C. community and encourage civic engagement.
The week’s main event will be a Pop-Up Produce Market at the Deanwood Recreation Center at 1350 49th Street NE midday on Saturday. Low-income families from Ward 7 will receive recipe cards and bags of fruits and vegetables donated from Blue Ridge Produce. University chef Rob Donis will give demonstrations on how to use those food items to create healthy meals. Ms. Knapp and D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander will attend.
Ward 7 families live in a “food desert,” Ms. Altieri said, where there are few grocery stores to buy fruits and vegetables. They also have high rates of blood pressure and obesity. Produce is often the most difficult item for families to find.
The Urban Food Task Force is still searching for volunteers for the market. Interested volunteers can send an email to GWfood@gwu.edu.
Ms. Altieri said she hopes all the Food Day events will help “open up the horizons” of those in the GW community.
“Many people may have never even been to Ward 7,” she said. “We hope this week will make people more aware about what sustainable food efforts are happening on campus and help them to think about civic engagement.”
The week will culminate with a daylong “Feeding the Planet” summit, hosted by the School of Media and Public Affairs and GW organization Planet Forward, on Oct. 30 in the Jack Morton Auditorium. The summit will explore innovation in food production, as the world population approaches 9 billion. Speakers at the summit include internationally renowned chef José Andrés, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes Chris Policinski and National Geographic editor Dennis Dimick.
Other highlights of Food Day will include:
Food = Community: A Dialogue on Food Culture
Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.
Foggy Bottom Farmers Market
Miriam’s Kitchen will sponsor this discussion examining the connection between chefs, farmers and local organizations. Equinox Restaurant’s Todd Gray will offer a chef’s perspective on the topic.
A Talk by President and CEO of Wholesome Wave Michel Nischan
Thursday, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m.
Mr. Nischan will discuss the successful program that has improved the accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables nationwide.
The Kiev Cookbook Display
Monday, Oct. 24
The special display will feature cookbooks from the library of Sheilah Kaufman, a culinary historian, author and lecturer.
A Path to Responsible Chocolate?
Monday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m.
Duques Hall room 553
John Forrer of GW’s Institute for Corporate Responsibility will moderate a discussion with business leaders from chocolate companies on various challenges they face in the industry.
Civic Engagement at Miriam’s Kitchen
Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m.
2401 Virginia Avenue, NW
Volunteers will serve dinner to members of the community.
A Place at the Table: Film Screening and Discussion
Monday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
Marvin Center Amphitheater
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), U.S. Department of State Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security Jonathan Shrier, Assistant Professor of Global Health Uri Colon-Ramos and Tony Castleman, associate research professor of international affairs, will discuss the film and implications of food security.