Friday, July 14, 2017

Tom Colicchio, Andrew Zimmern, José Andrés Promote Food Advocacy

“We had the Million Woman March, we had the Million Man March. How many people could we get out there marching for food?Andrew Zimmern, TV host and activist chef, (speaking about a lobbying effort organized by celebrity chefs).
Ken Cook, Andrew Zimmern, Tom Colicchio
We know Chef Tom Colicchio from the A Place at the Table and the #FoodisFuel campaigns, an effort that  follows on the powerful documentary about hunger in America. Colicchio's wife Lori Silverbush is co-director of the movie that many anti-hunger advocates have used to highlight the realities of hunger in many settings in America. The documentary anchored Bread for the World Offering of Letters in 2013. coinciding with the release of A Place at the Table,

Food Policy Action Holds Legislators Accountable
At about the same time as the documentary was being released, Colicchio and food policy leaders created the organization Food Policy Action (FPA) with the intention of  holding legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. "Our goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues," says the organization's website. "Through education and the National Food Policy Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to vote with their forks and elect more food policy leaders across the country."

FPA's agenda is both targeted and broad. The organization says its mission is to "promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production."

Most of New Mexico legislators attained fairly good marks on FPA's scorecard.  Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham received a 95% ranking, followed by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (94%), Sen. Martin Heinrich (82%), Sen. Tom Udall (78%), Rep. Steve Pearce (36%). FPA does not offer specifics on the legislation in question, but mentions that the rating is based on whether members of Congress voted to keep food safe, healthy, and affordable.

In this video filmed at TedxManhattan 2015, Tom Colicchio speaks about FPA's legislative efforts.

Plate of the Union: A Lobby Day for Chefs
FPA enlists other prominent personalities to help with fundraising and promotion, including Andrew Zimmern (from the television show Bizarre Foods. Colicchio and Zimmern, both chefs, have autographed a special "Plate of the Union" apron, which is given to supporters who pledge monthly. Click here to make your donation and get your special Plate of the Union apron. (Incidentally, Zimmern has also helped promote The ONE Campaign's efforts to address global poverty).

The Plate of the Union apron commemorates a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill that a group of 30 chefs (including Colicchio, Zimmern and José Andrés) and the organization Plate of the Union put together at the end of April. "The campaign is focused on raising awareness among lawmakers and consumers to promote a smarter approach to food policy ahead of the next farm bill, which Congress will begin debating in the coming months," said Plate of the Union, an organization that promotes similar goals as FPA. Representatives of other partner organizations also accompanied the chefs to the Capitol Hill meetings, including Ken Cook of Environmental Working Group.

 “This campaign is about protecting our basic right to healthy food, programs that will help end hunger in America, vital nutrition programs like SNAP, funding for healthy fruits and vegetables, and protecting the environment and our economy,” said Andrés, an award-winning Washington chef.

Plate of the Union created a link for people to see photos of the meetings on Capitol Hill.

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