Christopher Muller, NYFJ Faith Community and Arts Coordinator, started off the gathering sharing a spoken word. He expressed the need to have a just food system that worked for and improved the lives of all people from "the governed to the governor."
Following Mr. Muller was NY Faith & Justice Co-founder and Executive Director Lisa Sharon Harper. She echoed his sentiments and called on the creator to help the FRESH Initiative become a success as she delivered the invocation.
Several other members of the Good Food, Good Jobs Coalition spoke at the reception including Bruce Both, President fo the United Farm and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, Peggy Shepard, Executive Director and Founder of We Act for Environmental Justice. Chef Dan Barber, owner of Blue Hill Restaurant, also spoke of the need to reconnect with food and develop a more sustainable food program.
The keynote speaker of the event was New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Speaker Quinn highlighted the importance of the creation of comprehensive food system reform and touted a new "Food Works" Initiative for the creation of a just and sustainable food system. She claimed that not only would this improve the health and food quality for all New Yorkers but would also boost the New York economy. She used lettuce as an example.
Several New York City schools have started including salad bars as an option for students. In order to provide this, there is a great need for romaine lettuce. Unfortunately, almost all of the lettuce used in the schools is imported from the West Coast. Speaker Quinn mentioned that several New York farmers that grow Romaine lettuce would be interested in selling to the schools. The problem is that the city does not have the ability to wash, cut, and bag the produce.If the infrastructure is set up to provide this service then students would be receiving fresher produce and new jobs would be created as well.
This morning, however, was to intended to celebrate the FRESH Initiative and getting fresh and affordable produce into low income neighborhoods. If the turnout to the reception is linked to the success of the program, then the City can look forward to a successful and beneficial fresh start.