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Celebrate LA! event connects nutritious living to good food policy

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On June 7, the City of Los Angeles celebrated its rich cultural heritage and eight eventful years of Mayor Villaraigosa’s administration with “Celebrate LA! The Ultimate LA Block Party.” It was a free public event with musical performances, distinguished guest speakers, great food, and around 8,000 attendees on the steps of City Hall and Grand Park.

Speakers included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti, President Bill Clinton, Supervisor Gloria Molina and Council President Herb Wesson. Wanda Sykes and Placido Domingo also shared a few words, and special guest Stevie Wonder came by to sing a few songs. Performances were also from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, City of Los Angeles Music LA Heritage Artists, Seville and Pepe Aguilar.

As part of the festivities, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) hosted a Good Food Zone, with cooking demonstrations from well-known local chefs, an interactive arts and crafts space, local farme97e5cb60cfd911e28a7322000a1fa414_7rs’ produce booths, information tables to raise awareness about local food policy issues, and the Good Food Pledge Drive.

On the Good Food Stage, local chefs demonstrated how to prepare nutritious, delicious meals on a SNAP food stamp budget of $22.26 per day for a family of four. Chefs Roxana Jullapat (Cook’s County), Jimmy Shaw (Loteria Grill), Roy Choi (Kogi, Chego) and Neal Fraser (BLD) made simple dishes using healthy, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, including a spinach and panela enfrijolada, arugula and stone fruit salad, braised kale and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Food trucks lined each end of the Good Food Zone, ranging from grilled cheese staple “The Melt” to the “Mariscos Jalisco” with its crispy, succulent shrimp tacos.  In offering space to food trucks and street food vendors, priority was given to businesses that strive to use sustainable, locally grown ingredients. Also present that evening, ice cream sandwich truck “Coolhaus” uses sustainably produced and artificial growth hormone free dairy products, as well as local and seasonal produce in its sandwiches.

5e49fb06cfd911e280cd22000a9f18de_7East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) had a table for the “Legalize Street Vending” campaign, an initiative supported by a broad coalition of community organizations and advocates including the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. The campaign urges the City of Los Angeles to provide business licenses and a regulatory structure for food vending on sidewalks, as well as incentives for vendors to sell healthier foods. Out of ten major cities nationally, Los Angeles is the only one without a system for sidewalk food vending. Over 200 people signed the petition to legalize street food vending at the Celebrate LA event. Street food vendors were also present at the event, raising visibility for the campaign. Caridad Vazquez sold meat and vegetarian tacos, quesadillas, and huaraches; Guadalupe Arias offered crepes, pancakes, and other desserts; and Marcelino Flores had aguas frescas, cut fruit, and shaved ice for event attendees.

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council hosted an interactive arts table where we asked children and adults to envision ideas around the question: “What is Good Food for All?” With stickers, markers and collages, participants created a vibrant picture of a sustainable and fair food system that supports everyone. Information about LAFPC’s work and programs was available at the booth for attendees hoping to learn more.

The Good Food Pledge Drive and prize raffle engaged Celebrate LA! attendees in a conversation about how individuals can take action in their daily lives to help move Los Angeles toward a more just food system. Created by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, the Good Food Pledge is a personal commitment to food that is healthy, affordable, fair, sustainable and accessible to all. The pledge encourages Angelenos to recognize that food choices and actions have the power to reform the food system, sustain local family farmers, food workers, sffwebupport sustainable farming practices, reward good environmental stewardship and increase access to fresh and healthy foods. Event attendees who signed the Good Food Pledge at Celebrate LA! were entered into a raffle for the chance to win $50 gift cards to dine at some of LA’s top restaurants.

For attendees raring to complete action item #2 of the Good Food Pledge – “Eat at least one seasonal, local fruit or vegetable each day” – McGrath Family Farm, Weiser Family Farms, and Pedro’s Avocado Ranch offered fresh, summer produce grown within the 200-mile LA regional food shed.

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Over 500 people signed the Good Food Pledge on June 7. Three lucky winners also went home with gift cards to dine out on us. Chefs who participated in our food stamp budget cooking demonstrations, Neal Fraser from BLD, Roxana Jullapat from Cook’s County, and Jimmy Shaw from Loteria Grill, generously donated gift cards for the raffle. Additional gift cards for Kogi BBQ trucks and LAMILL Coffee Boutique were awarded. Emcees drew raffle prize winners on stage periodically, with a grand prize winner announced just before Pepe Aguilar’s incend

iary performance which rounded out the evening’s scheduled musical performances.

For recipes and more about the cooking demonstrations, read our report on the Good Food Stage: “Top LA Chefs Create Farm-to-Fork Meals Using Food Stamps Budget.”