Food Day in San Antonio

Remember my mentioning Food Day and an article that I was researching? This is the final story, which ran in the Leon Springs Community News last month. For those of you outside of Texas, UTSA is The University of Texas at San Antonio. :

Lesli Friedman of UTSA

On October 24, communities across the country will observe the inaugural Food Day. Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nationwide event (www.FoodDay.org) is designed to foster a “push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.”

At UTSA, a Department of Health and Kinesiology professor is leading campus efforts to observe Food Day. Lesli Friedman, a nutritionist, said that her involvement with the campus Food Day observance came about through her department’s work on and research of community nutrition-related initiatives, including several assessments of the campus food environment.

“There seems to be growing interest within the university to promote healthy and sustainable living and so Food Day has come to us at a good time,” said Friedman. “Volunteers to promote Food Day at first consisted only of faculty and staff but now [the effort] has a growing student involvement.”

Local food activist and blogger Leslie Provence isn’t surprised that UTSA students are becoming engaged with Food Day activities. “[Nationwide] students are bringing green initiatives to campus, and the cafeteria is a big focus for that–recycling bottles and cans, writing healthier procurement contracts, composting projects, all start there,” said Provence, who serves with Friedman as a member of the newly formed San Antonio Food Policy Council. “I’ve been doing college tours with my daughter, and schools are looking for students who will take initiative to do new things, if what they are interested in does not already exist on campus. The students who organize these things are not only showing leadership, but they are also raising the awareness of the campus community and extending the ideas to everyone. And the result is healthier food for everyone, and lowered environmental impacts.”

According to Friedman, college students are at risk for both immediate and future health problems due to unhealthy food choices. Through collaborative research, she has learned that “there are many successful college nutrition promotion, food policy, and sustainability programs” in colleges across the United States.

“Student food preferences are changing from what college food service previously included. There seems to be a conflict of priorities on many college campuses. On one hand there is a great demand for fast, convenient, and often low-nutrient dense foods,” said Friedman. “On the other hand, many universities have very popular sustainability, buy-local, and green initiatives. Food Day provides an opportunity to promote food throughout the university through student and faculty service, scholarship and research.”

Although the UTSA Food Day committee is still finalizing details, Friedman noted that campus events will be open to the public. At press time partners included campus student, faculty and staff services offices as well as off-campus entities, including the San Antonio Food Bank, the San Antonio Food Policy Council, Greenling Foods, and the Mayor Castro’s Fitness Council.

“A nutrition careers panel will include professionals from the San Antonio Dietetic Association, Metro Health, the San Antonio Food Bank, Texas AgriLife Extension, and community nutrition agencies,” said Friedman.

For more information on the campus events, contact Friedman at Lesli.Friedman@utsa.edu.

Provence noted too that all official San Antonio-area Food Day events should be posted for review online at FoodDay.org. “I’m organizing a farm tour for Monday, October 24, for the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and the Mayor’s office is working on something for him to do in recognition of the day,” she said. “Visit the map at FoodDay.org, and watch for local events to be added.”

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