Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Nigeria Holloway, from left, Dorothy McCloud and Tyler Burger compete in one of the kale eating contests as part of Feast Down East’s Food Day Wilmington at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Kale-eating contests, probiotic kaffir water samples and local okra caprese salads were some of the attractions for the students of the University of North Carolina Wilmington at Feast Down East’s Food Day Wilmington.
Staged at UNCW’s outdoor amphitheater and the Fisher Student Union, the third annual Food Day Wilmington celebrated local, sustainable and healthy foods and farming on Thursday, Oct. 25.
Through its partnership with the university, Feast Down East aims to instill an appreciation for those local, sustainable and healthy foods in young people, said Feast Down East graduate assistant and Food Day Wilmington coordinator Kristen Sumpter.
“Food Day happens every day on October 24, and it is a national celebration for sustainable, healthy and local food, and it culminates every year on a day of action,” Sumpter said. “We decided to do Food Day Wilmington on campus to involve actual students and have tables for local organizations that focus on certain aspects of ecosystems, farm worker justice, eating healthy, local and organic to raise awareness about food day and its mission.”
In addition to the information passersby could obtain from the booths set up outside, Food Day Wilmington included a series of guest lectures and information sessions. Those sessions covered everything from how food can affect a person in every aspect of his or her life, farm worker rights, genetically modified organisms in food, a screening of “A Place at the Table” starring Jeff Bridges and a panel discussion with UNCW students who took the challenge of surviving on the food stamp ration of $4.50 a day.
Feast Down East director Jane Steigerwald said it is important to give college students this information so they can address what they are beginning to see in their own lives.
“Students are seeing our food system as a system that has been breaking down and not serving them well,” Steigerwald said. “I think students want to know how they can change how they live to make their life a healthier life. One way to do that is to address your food system.”
Feast Down East helps UNCW students eat local by pairing with the university’s food vendor, Aramark Foods, to have ingredients from local farmers in the cafeterias.
After the conclusion of the sustainable food fair in the amphitheater, Sumpter said the third annual Food Day Wilmington drew a lot more visitors than previous years with entire health, environmental and sociology classes stopping by as well as other interested students. Community involvement is something the sustainable, local food movement will need more of to gain momentum, she said.
“We really tried to promote and advertise food day this year because we really wanted to reach as many students as possible,” Sumpter said. “It is getting more attention within cities. People have to ask for and demand local, sustainable food when they go out to restaurants, markets and grocery stores.”