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Nourish Day in San Diego, California

Healthy Works is a program of the County of San Diego’s Live Well, San Diego! Building Better Health initiative, a 10-year strategic vision for improving health and wellness, and combating the toll of chronic diseases such as obesity.

Here, Healthy Works’ marketing associate Chelsea Fiss reflects on the highly successful Nourish Day celebration, the first of what they hope will become an annual event.

“Eat fresh, buy local.” That was the message of the first annual Nourish Day celebration held in San Diego on October 21, 2011, as part of the nationwide Food Day campaign. San Diegans celebrated local food by hosting a picnic-style film presentation of Nourish: Food + Community under the stars on the lawn of a local high school. The event was organized by Healthy Works, in collaboration with the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Network for a Healthy California.

The purpose of the afternoon was simple: encourage community members to be curious about the story of their food while celebrating local produce, local farmers, and the personal and community health benefits of good nutrition.

Before the Nourish screening, a special pop-up farmer’s market encouraged community interaction. Several Healthy Works partner groups and non-profit organizations that deal with food and health were on-hand to share resources. The Network for a Healthy California set up physical activity stations appropriately named “Apple Toss, Coconut Bowling, and Lettuce Dribble” for children to play and learn.

The public had the opportunity to meet local farmers and sample their fare, and learn how they are bringing farm fresh produce to San Diego county stores, schools, and restaurants. One farmer from the IRC’s gardening training program shared how it taught him how to grow fruit trees and herbs to sustain a small business and support his family. Two popular gourmet food trucks, whose business models support a commitment to sustainable living, fed the crowd with produce sourced from local farms. Other vendors served up East African and Salvadorian food.

As the sun began to set, a diverse mix of San Diegans laid out their blankets and chairs for the screening of Nourish. Following the film, a panel fielded questions and explored creative possibilities for the San Diego food system. Panelists included a local farmer, a farm-to-school coordinator, a school and community garden organizer, a farmer’s market expert, and a chef. Seth Nickinson, US Field Director for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, closed the evening with an invitation for everyone present to take the initiative in creating a healthier food culture.

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