Slow Food USA's “Give What You Can Day,” is Monday, September 2nd and kicks off a month long membership drive. Membership normally runs $60 but give any amount you feel comfortable with to join the non-profit organization who advocates for good, clean and fair food for all. I became a member in 2008 and would like to share why I re-new my membership each year.
For some people, knowing that contributing to a good cause aligned to their belief system is enough. I do not happen to be one of those people. I enjoy membership with Slow Food for both its non-monetary value, as well as its potential to fuel campaigns and programs that make a difference. Early on, joining Slow Food became more than “what it stands for” but rather “what can I do” to support good, clean and fair food. Being a school teacher and mother of three, I am extremely concerned about the future of food and what our children have access to now and in the future.
Early on, I felt helpless and immobilized; how can I single-handedly change a food system that adversely affects children? When I joined Slow Food and became active as a member, I was able to network and make connections with members locally and nationally who had similar missions. I quickly realized that, by bringing like-minded people and organizations together, we could create programs that would improve the health and wellness of our youth. Whether it is establishing a school garden program or attending an event to support local school gardens, membership matters.
I have hope for the future as I see children harvesting food from the garden where it will be served it in the school cafeteria, chefs using local produce from a community garden in tasty dishes, and hearing the stories famers tell in providing food from seed to table. What you get from Slow Food membership is joining a community of individuals who want to prepare food with real ingredients, preserve seeds and culture, and educate through best practices and story-telling. I also enjoy membership because Slow Food promotes inclusiveness where all people have the right to nutritious food. I relish the idea that I can sit down with individuals different from me, enjoy the food we all bring to the table, and walk away being a better human. For me, being a member of Slow Food is about leaving a legacy for my children and my students so they are equipped and empowered to care for their bodies and the earth which we all depend on for survival.
Let me share with you some of the Slow Food Columbus and Slow Food USA campaigns and programs I am personally involved with, which is just an example of many different types of programming going on in the U.S. From a monetary standpoint, membership can support initiatives aimed at improving the food system by supplying supplies and resources. Slow Food USA is a volunteer-based organization; Slow Food leaders and members plan and implement events and programs often, in addition to their full-time jobs.
Slow Food Columbus Low-Tunnels for Schools has supported over forty schools in Central Ohio to supply professional development to teachers and materials to build low-tunnels over raised-garden beds. The low-tunnels cover and protect cold weather vegetables so they can be harvest throughout the school year.
Slow Food USA School Garden Network is a working group who provides opportunities for school garden leaders across the nation to sustain programs and share best practices that include nutrition, cooking and edible education.
More Time for Lunch is a campaign that is making its debut this school year. The SFUSA Policy committee is working with congressional leaders to sponsor a bill that will allow school children more time to actually eat lunch. This bill addresses the reality that children currently only have about ten minutes to eat their lunch, which is decreasing their opportunity to get the nutrition they need to learn.
Slow Food Reynoldsburg High School is the first chapter in the United States of its kind which engages students not only in the food aspect but in addressing the need to train students for jobs in agriculture and food preparation. Often, high school students lose their connection to food even if they were involved in school gardens at a younger age. Students are able to build a relationship with food to prepare them for healthy lifestyles after graduation.
This is just a sampling of what types of programs you can support through membership and attending events in Columbus. Please join us at Shake the Hand that Feeds You at Anderson Farms on October, 3, 2019. Please visit our facebook page @slowfoodcolumbus to purchase your ticket(s). Please become a member and give what you can on September 2 and then contact our Chapter Leader to purchase your ticket at a reduced rate.
Cynthia Walters Slow Food Columbus Board Member
SFC Low-Tunnels for Schools
SFUSA School Garden Network
SFUSA Food & Farming Policy Steering Committee
SFUSA Governor of Ohio