Plan to promote healthy food in city to be launched on National Food Day

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Stacy Spell (center), chair of the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation, leads CARE’s Billy Bromage (far left), the Food Policy Council’s Tagan Engel (third from right front) and West River neighbors at the Little Red Hen Garden. More than creating sustainable food, the garden is building community in West River.

Yale University will celebrate National Food Day on Wednesday, Oct. 24, with a special event titled “Food Day — Food Action!” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will speak about “food insecurity” (lack of access to healthy, safe, and nutritious food) and launch the New Haven Food Policy Action Plan which aims to increase access to healthy food for all, strengthen the city’s local food economy, and encourage healthy food choices through education and marketing efforts.

Other featured speakers will include:

  • Jeannette Ickovics, director of the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health, professor at Yale School of Public Health, and lead curator of the exhibition “Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating,” currently on display at the Peabody
  • Tagan Engel, chair, New Haven Food Policy Council
  • Stacy Spell, chair, West River Neighborhood Services Corporation

Following the program in the auditorium, local chefs from Miya’s Sushi, Sandra’s Next Generation, and Green Well Organic Tea & Coffee will share samples that showcase healthy and affordable food that can be replicated in home kitchens. Admission to the event is free, but registration is required.

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Sponsored by CARE, “Food Day — Food Action!” will celebrate the strides being taken by the New Haven community to create better food for a better city. This event connects the national food movement with community and city leaders who will hear about effective action being taken to deliver New Haven’s first Food Action Plan. Led by the New Haven Food Policy Council, the Food Action Plan is the culmination of two years of research and community effort to combat obesity and to provide healthy food throughout New Haven.

A 2009 study by CARE found that one in two students were either overweight or obese, and one in five New Haven residents suffered from “food insecurity.” Poor diet — exacerbated by lack of access to healthy foods and inadequate exercise — are among the risk factors that experts say have contributed to the city’s high rate of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

“A local plan is vital for improving health throughout the city,” said Ickovics. “The Food Policy Council has produced a comprehensive plan to build and maintain a food system that nourishes all people in a just and sustainable manner. I believe that New Haven now can step forward as a model for the nation.”

CARE is a university-community partnership that works to improve New Haven’s health through the use of evidence-based programs and policies. It brings Yale faculty, administrators, and students together with representatives from government, schools, the New Haven Health Department, health care providers, community organizations, local businesses, and philanthropic agencies. The New Haven Food Policy Council is a volunteer advisory board for the City of New Haven.

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