Campus marks national Food Day with a week of activities

Whether you celebrate national Food Day or Food Week, thousands of events begin today across the country, and Berkeley has several in the mix. They include a panel discussion, an “Eat and Greet” community mixer, a Cal Dining menu featuring ingredients sourced from a 250-mile radius and, on Oct. 30, a Halloween Harvest Festival.

An Oct. 20 fair on Dwinelle Plaza gave an early kick-off to Food Day/Week. It featured local food vendors and student groups working on food justice and sustainability issues. (Cal Dining photo by Adolfo Cesar Guerra)

An Oct. 20 fair on Dwinelle Plaza gave an early kick-off to Food Day/Week. It featured local food vendors and student groups working on food justice and sustainability issues. (Cal Dining photo by Adolfo Cesar Guerra)

National Food Day, held this year on Monday, Oct. 24, is an annual event launched by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in an effort to inspire Americans to change their diets and to take action to solve food-related problems at the local, state and national level. The 2016 Food Day theme is “Toward a Greener Diet.” The UC system’s campuses are taking part.

At Berkeley, a strong interest in food and agriculture has been building, especially in the area of food and justice, as reflected by academic and educational programming, student-led initiatives and community outreach activities.

“It’s fair to say that every day is Food Day at UC Berkeley,” says Ann Thrupp, executive director of the three-year-old Berkeley Food Institute, a central resource on campus for food research, public education and policy work. “There’s growing momentum among students and faculty involved in food and agriculture issues that can be seen across campus and across disciplines.”

As examples, Thrupp cited the new undergraduate minor in food systems, a new category in the annual Big Ideas competition for students tackling global food systems challenges, a program to address student food insecurity and to build more equitable food systems on campus, more than eight student-initiated food and agriculture clubs and a surge in cross-disciplinary research as a result of the Berkeley Food Institute seed grant program.

Here is a list of Berkeley’s 2016 Food Day/Week activities:

Food Day t-shirts at the Food Day Vendor Fair. (Cal Dining photo by Adolfo Cesar Guerra)

Food Day t-shirts at the Food Day Vendor Fair. (Cal Dining photo by Adolfo Cesar Guerra)

Monday, Oct. 24, 7:30-9 p.m.
114 Morgan Hall
Eat and Greet Food Community Mixer

Diverse student organizations involved in Berkeley’s food movement invite undergraduate and graduate students and members of the faculty to learn more about the campus’s food club community. The event, sponsored by the College of Natural Resources, includes the Berkeley Student Food Collective, FoodInno, GradFood, Food@Haas, SNAC (Student Nutrition Advocacy Club), FEED (Food Equity, Entrepreneurship and Development), Spoon University, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and Food Science and Tech at Cal. Group members will be on hand to talk about opportunities in food consulting, food engineering, nutrition education, food recovery, food policy, food systems, food innovation and cooking.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 4-5:30 p.m.|
David Brower Center
Panel discussion: “Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley”

Panelists at this event, hosted by the Berkeley Food Institute, will consider how to increase equity in the campus food system and address issues of student, faculty and staff representation and participation. The aim is to redesign the complex structures that determine food studies and food access on campus. The event is part of a broader effort, described in this video, to build more equitable food systems on campus.

The UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a collaborative community project between UC Berkeley and the local community that is focused on ecological farming, food justice and fostering equitable economies and a healthy environment. (Photo courtesy of UC Gill Tract Community Farm)

The UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a collaborative community project between UC Berkeley and the local community that is focused on ecological farming, food justice and fostering equitable economies and a healthy environment. (Photo courtesy of UC Gill Tract Community Farm)

Panelists include:

  • Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the Global Justice Program at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
  • Alastair Iles, associate professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
  • Jennifer Sowerwine, assistant cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
  • Kara Young (moderator), Ph.D. candidate in sociology

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 5-9 p.m.
Extreme Local Dinner
Crossroads, Foothill, Clark Kerr and Café 3 dining commons

The dinner menu at all dining commons will feature ingredients from with 250 miles of campus. The event aims to bring diners closer to a food system with “real food” that is produced with care for the environment, animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it.

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On a previous Food Day, a Cal Dining chef serves students from an all-local menu with ingredients from a 250-mile radius of campus. (UC Berkeley photo by Christina Voyles)

On the menu will be herb-roasted chicken, grenadier (fish) with verjus, butter beans and kale, garlic Romanesco, butternut squash soup, wild mushroom pudding and polenta cake with mushroom ragout. Dessert will be made at a do-it-yourself yogurt parfait bar with local ingredients.

“Cal Dining is striving to provide increased transparency for the ingredients we use,” says Samantha Lubow, environment initiatives coordinator for Cal Dining, “and to highlight California’s bounty.”

Sunday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Halloween Harvest Festival
UC Gill Tract Community Farm
San Pablo Avenue at Marin Avenue, Albany

This annual harvest festival offers fresh food that is cooked and harvested at the farm, plus music, workshops and kids’ activities. Farming will take place in the morning, followed by a farm-fresh lunch, a workshop on African American herbalism and then a panel discussion about food security and food justice. Musical guests will perform throughout the day, and Halloween costumes – as long as they are culturally sensitive – are encouraged.

In addition to events tied to Food Day/Week, and as part of the UC Global Food Initiative that was launched in 2014, each UC campus has developed an action plan to increase awareness about campus food resources and the availability of financial assistance. They have created workshops to educate students about eating healthy on a budget and have expanded meal sharing programs and food pantry storage and access.

Bear pantry

The UC Berkeley Food Pantry offers fresh produce and other healthy, organic foods. (UC Berkeley photo by Cailey Cotner)

At Berkeley, these efforts include the Food Assistance Program that provides help for students who need access to nutritious food. The program includes the UC Berkeley Food Pantry, the Bear Pantry for low-income student families with dependent children, nutrition resources and “What’s Eating You” classes through University Health Services, and Financial Aid and Scholarships resources.

The growing food movement on campus also includes the creation of a dynamic, interactive, online food landscape map – to be unveiled in Spring 2017 – with the goal of showcasing the people and places on campus involved in building a more equitable and inclusive food system at Berkeley. It will indicate barriers to full participation by historically marginalized community members and the obstacles to overcoming these barriers.

Part of “Building Equitable and Inclusive Food System at UC Berkeley,” a project of the Berkeley Food Institute, in cooperation with other campus organizations, the map will help guide the new UC Berkeley Food Policy Council in its equity and inclusion efforts and will include stories that visitors can click on to hear the voices of individuals at the heart of the campus food system.