October 24 is Food Day. Organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it’s a chance to take a good, hard look at our diets and make a conscious effort to eat healthier. It’s also a time to think about how to solve food-related problems in our communities and encourage healthy food initiatives like organic farms.
This year’s Food Day is focused on two distinct areas: food access and justice for food and farm workers.
Food access refers to the ability of a population to acquire fresh, healthy foods. According to a factsheet from Food Day, 23.5 million Americans don’t have access to a supermarket within a mile of their home. They note that focusing on and working toward improving food access is important because, “Increased access to local food can improve the local economy and help lift low-income residents out of poverty.”
The second area of focus for this year’s Food Day is justice for food and farm workers. Food service workers are among some of the lowest-paid workers in the country. The federal minimum wage for workers who receive tips is just $2.13 an hour, an amount that hasn’t changed for 20 years, and is less than 30 percent of the full minimum wage. The poverty rate among workers who are paid the tipped worker rate is 21 percent―that’s three times the rate of poverty found in the country’s workforce in general.
Farm workers make up another large section of the food industry: In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated two to three million farm workers. Like food service workers, farm workers also suffer from extremely low wages. Farm work is the eighth lowest paid job in the country, giving an annual income of between $10,000 and $17,499, though it is also one of the more dangerous occupations. Research shows that many workers regularly suffer from conditions including heat stress, urinary tract infections and eye injuries, and each year between 10,000 and 20,000 workers a year are diagnosed with pesticide poisoning.
This year’s online events and initiatives include:
- A tweetchat hosted by @FoodDay2014 at #FoodDay2014 and #FoodDayChat on October 24 from noon to 5 p.m. ET.
- Two cookbooks, 20 Recipes to Get Kids Cooking!, designed to help teach kids about food and nutrition in the kitchen, and the Eat Real Recipe Booklet that includes recipes from top chefs and cookbook writers.
- A toolkit of ways you can help change the food system.
- A food literacy quiz.
- A tool to help you determine your “Diet Impact Score.”
You can learn more about Food Day and how to get involved on their website. To find Food Day events near you check out their map, or to sign up to host an event click here.