National Food Day shows students the healthy benefits of “real food”
The fresh herbs, handmade ice cream, and straight-from-the-farm cheese on display were in stark contrast to a video detailing animal cruelty in factory farms and devastating water shortages endured by people around the world.
This juxtaposition is what National Food Day (NFD) is all about. NFD, a nationwide celebration and movement advocating more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food is held annually on October 24. According to its website, NFD aims to “address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice.”
Gallaudet’s General Studies Requirement (GSR) 150 and 300 classes participated in the event with displays in the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center Marketplace. Projects from GSR 300 included a wide range of food-related issues such as animal cruelty, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), healthy international dishes versus fast food, and climate change. GSR 150 students focused on the many farmers’ markets in the greater Washington, D.C. area, vividly demonstrating the Gallaudet community’s ready access to fresh, local produce, dairy, and meats. Students also gave out samples of raw milk cheese from Hope Springs Farm and apple cider from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market, both located in nearby Lancaster County, Pa.
Boyd Nakamura, a senior double majoring in history and interpreting, focused his project on GMOs, which are used to make genetically modified food. “It’s amazing how companies control what you buy, what your soup tastes like, or the different kinds of food you eat,” said Nakamura.
Across the room, another group offered samples from H Street eateries H and Pizza and Taylor’s Gourmet. Students collaborated with the restaurants in an effort to show others that eating at restaurants can be healthy if customers make a conscious choice to eat at places that use fresh, local ingredients.
Seniors Toska Pearson and Jerrica Poehlmann hosted a taste test where people could sample organic vs. non-organic foods. Then they explained the differences between the two. “Most people thought the organic food tasted better,” said Pearson.
Yokie Leong, a junior majoring in information technology, said the day proved to be an enlightening experience for her. “I learned that I need to eat healthier and cook healthier,” she said.
Bon Appétit, Gallaudet’s food management company, believes sustainability is important for the campus community and can lead to healthier lifestyles. They follow a policy of only using cage- and hormone-free dairy products. Bon Appétit also ensures that its meat suppliers treat the animals humanely.
Davina Kwong, general manager of Bon Appétit, said she learned more about how cruelly many animals are treated in factory farms from a video project by Dana Baldiviez, a senior interpreting major. Kwong said she also gathered ideas for food to serve health-conscious students on campus.
“Helping host NFD for the first time was great! Our staff was able to participate and become educated,” said Kwong.
All of the students who participated in the project learned the same objectives: community outreach, group dynamics, communication, presentation, and delivery.
In addition, GSR 150 students learned online fundraising skills, raising money and collecting food for Bread for the City, a non-profit organization that provides food and other services to D.C. residents in need, according to Rhea Kennedy, who teaches the class.
Both Bon Appétit and the GSR instructors hope to put on another event recognizing NFD next year.