There is something that many of us take for granted each day. Food. The majority of us have the good fortune to dine out, shop our local grocers and markets, and even grow our own plethora of goods. We read about food. We value and appreciate food. We know the importance of eating right (most of the time anyway), asking questions and paying attention to where our food comes from. Sadly I believe we are still in the minority, though thanks to continuous efforts of many individuals like Michael Pollan and stories like Food Inc., the greater nation appears to be catching on.
Perhaps the biggest issue here is that many of the people making poor food choices are also making them for their kids. Kids who are growing up on fast food and processed garbage. Kids that can’t recognize a tomato from a potato. Kids that are becoming plagued with juvenile diabetes. And kids that represent the first generation not expected to outlive their parents.
Of course there are a lot of factors contributing to this dilemma. And there are varying perspectives on what to do about it. We’re not going to easily solve the problem, but we can start today by trying to make a difference right here in our community.
We can help 4th graders in Cleveland learn about food. Learn about farming. And understand where their meals come from and the benefits of making smart choices early on. And then they can take that newfound excitement and knowledge home to their parents and start a conversation about what they eat and begin to make better choices as a family.
Last school year, Cleveland Foodie readers together with local chefs and businesses raised $3,820 for Veggie U. Which ultimately saved the program in our city. For those of you that don’t know, Veggie U is a national program that promotes the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease, and attaining an understanding of sustainable agriculture. The program provides a complete kit and lesson plans to teachers to help educate their students through hands-on, fun curricula. There are 157 participating classrooms in our area and each kit costs $225. At the end of the program, students understand the connection between agriculture, good nutrition and the culinary arts.
Well Cleveland, these kids and teachers need our help once again. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I know you care about food and our community. And I am going to assume you also have an extra $5 and are willing to skip your daily latte in lieu of supporting this inspirational program. Now I understand many of us are active in other charities and freely donate our time and money to those in need. So if you can’t donate, that’s completely understandable. But if you can, you have the opportunity to not just help curtail a growing epidemic, but turn your donation into free local eats for the next year!
Like last time, if you donate $5 to Veggie U, you will automatically be entered to win more than $2,350 worth of gift cards to all your favorite eateries and shops. Want to increase your odds? Donate $10, $25, $50 or more. For every $5 you donate, you will earn another entry into the drawing. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You have until December 23 to donate and be entered. It’s easy – just call 419.499.7500 M-F, 9a.m. – 5 p.m.; you must reference Cleveland Foodie. A winner will be picked using random.org on the 24th.
I can’t think of a city that boasts more generosity or positive goodwill to help each other out. Almost immediately after asking, area chefs and business owners quickly agreed to help the cause. I know I sound like a broken record, but we have an amazing community and I am touched by their continued generosity and willingness to always pitch in and help. Thank you to each of you for agreeing to participate.
One incredibly lucky diner will spend the year eating and drinking their way throughout Cleveland:
- The Greenhouse Tavern / $100 gift card (look for a separate Veggie U benefit coming soon from GHT)
- The Flying Fig / $50 gift card
- Lola / $50 gift card
- Washington Place Bistro & Inn / $50 gift card plus a night at the inn!
- The Welschfield Inn / $50 gift card
- 87 West 2 / $50 gift card
- Menu6 / $50 gift card
- Chinato / $50 gift card
- Parallax / $50 gift card
- L’Albatros / $50 gift card
- Table 45 / $50 gift card
- Moxie / $50 gift card
- Red / $50 gift card
- Melt / $50 gift card
- Fire / $50 gift card
- Momocho / $50 gift card (chef Eric Williams also made an additional $250 donation to Veggie U!)
- Heinen’s / $50 gift card
- Blue Canyon / $50 gift card
- Fahrenheit / $200 gift card
- Michaelangelo’s / $50 gift card
- Umami / $50 gift card
- AMP150 / $50 gift card
- Dante / $50 gift card
- Miles Farmer’s Market / $50 gift card
- Crop Bistro / $50 gift card
- Jeni’s Ice Creams / $50 gift card
- Tartine / $50
- Light Bistro / $50 gift card
- Sum Place/Dim & Den Sum / $50 gift card
- A Cookie and a Cupcake / $50 gift card
- Western Reserve Wines / $50 gift card
- Bodega / $50 gift card
- Palate Restaurant & Lounge / $50 gift card
- Burntwood Tavern / $50 gift card
- Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar / $50 gift card
- Middle East Grill / $50 gift card
- Happy Chix Farms / 5 whole chickens ($50 value)
- Erie Island Coffee / $50 gift card
To kick it off, Jamie and I will donate $100 (we will not be counted for the drawing). If you’re a follower of this blog I can only assume it’s an issue that matters to you, too. Let’s follow the lead of our chefs and business owners and show what the Cleveland food community can accomplish when we work together. I hope you’ll join us by making a donation.