Monday, September 08, 2008

Slow Food Soapbox

The frenetic labor day weekend included the Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco. The event included four days of panels discussions, meetings, performances and of course, FOOD! Urban Sprouts' highlight was working with a group of youth involved in our work, the work of Next Course and the work of Pie Ranch, to hold a discussion on a topic important to them all, school food.

During Changemakers Day, a series of panel discussions focused on bringing professionals in the field of sustainable food systems together, Slow Food San Francisco featured a clever "soapbox" stage centered in the City Hall Victory Garden from which advocates, performers, youth and others could engage the surrounding attendees. Following the eloquent speaker and author, David Mas Masumoto, five youth staged a conversation around a cafeteria table. The youth sat at the table with empty lunch trays that seemed to symbolize how school food lacks substance to them. From the table, the youth shared with the audience why they often, if not always, choose not to eat the school meals offered through the San Francisco Unified School District. As they shared personal stories about when they enjoyed food and the meaning it has to them, each youth exchanged their empty lunch tray for an item that connected back to their story. One student held up corn, another a fork from her grandmothers kitchen, and another a fresh green apple.

The youth shared touching stories about how the hands on experience of cooking with family and fellow students brought their closer together; how cooking for others brought a sense of joy and fulfillment to them; how food that they have grown holds value and meaning that makes them enjoy fresh food profoundly; and how food can remind them of people they love and miss.

They closed their discussion with commentary on how they appreciate the hard work of the SFUSD to bring them school meals that meet nutrition standards but that they believe we all can work as a community to provide school meals that students want to eat; meals that respect their needs for fresh fruits and vegetables; meals that reflect the values of a healthy food system; meals that they can enjoy, and as Slow Food celebrity Alice Waters also believes in, meals they can take pleasure in.

Urban Sprouts would like to thank Andy, David, Ruby, Isadora, and Anh for their courage and creativity in presenting at Soapbox and Next Course and Pie Ranch for co-organizing this event.
Thank you everyone!!

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