Author Archives: myrnagreenfield

Help Families in Need to Dine Out with Dignity

Phfeast founder Dan Napierski at Mass Foodie Night

Phfeast founder Dan Napierski at Mass Innovation Nights Foodie #7

by Myrna Greenfield, Good Egg Marketing

As someone who loves growing, cooking, eating, and sharing healthy local food, I’m always looking for ways to pass along my latest and greatest find. So I was excited to meet Dan Napierski at the recent Mass Innovation Nights Foodie #7 and learn about Phfeast, his innovative new food philanthropy program. (Get it? Philanthropy + food = Phfeast!)

Phfeast LogoPhfeast is a restaurant loyalty program where you can earn free meals for children and families in need, just by checking in when you’re dining at participating eateries. This start-up, based at the Venture Development Center at UMass Boston, provides a platform for loyal customers to earn meal rewards for families that rely on food pantries for assistance.

“I have three young children of my own at home,” Napierski told me. “I feel fortunate to be able to put food on our table and to take them out for a meal. I started Phfeast when I realized that thousands of families in Massachusetts don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” he said.

“According to Project Bread, 700,000 Massachusetts children and adults are experiencing food insecurity,” Napierski added. “Food pantries are facing increased demand, so we’re partnering with them to reach people who need help. Phfeast enables families in need to enjoy a meal with dignity.”

iPhone Phfeast appNapierski, a Framingham, Mass. resident whose background is in software development, has already created a web-based program for Phfeast and native Android and iOS apps are coming soon. Customers earn points each time they “check in” at participating locations. When each location reaches a specific number of points, it issues a dining certificate to a local food pantry, allowing an individual or family in need to dine at that restaurant for free.

Phfeast charges the eateries a subscription fee. Participating restaurants get promoted by Phfeast and gain all the benefits of a traditional loyalty program. By promoting their participation in the program, the restaurants can attract new customers and encourage current customers to eat there more frequently. And the eateries will be able to account for and promote their charitable giving.

Currently, there are 11 participating locations, including six Stone Hearth Pizza Co. restaurants, three Chicken & Rice Guys food trucks, the Amsterdam Falafelshop in Somerville, and the Foodie Café in Framingham. Napierski is adding locations rapidly and hopes to expand to other cities, starting with Washington, DC.

“It’s important that we all work together to fight hunger,” says the Foodie Café’s David Blais.  “Choosing to partner with Phfeast made perfect sense.”

Napierski is a strong supporter of the Food Day priorities. “In addition to helping to reduce hunger, we’re helping families eat safer, healthier meals at the participating eateries,” he said. “And many of the low-paid workers in the food industry rely on food stamps and food pantries to get by. It’s an honor to be able to give back to those workers by enabling them to enjoy a free meal, on the house,” he added.

As we get closer to Food Day on October 24, signing up to participate in Phfeast as an eater, business or donor is an easy way for us to help reduce hunger, one meal at a time. For more info, visit http://www.Phfeast.com.

 

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Eat, Learn, Share at Boston’s Upcoming Food Festivals

by Myrna Greenfield, Good Egg Marketing

Food servings from Boston Local Food Festival

One of the delicious dishes available at last year’s Boston Local Food Festival.

The principles behind Food Day are words that I try to eat and live by: promote safer, healthier diets; support sustainable and organic farms; reduce hunger; reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals; support fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

This September, Massachusetts is blessed to have two major food festivals that help people learn about and celebrate healthy local food. Although neither the Boston Local Food Festival nor Let’s Talk About Food was specifically created around Food Day, they’re both great places to build a community around Food Day issues.

Boston Local Food Festival logoThe Boston Local Food Festival (BLFF), now celebrating its 5th year, is a free outdoor event that will take place on Sunday, September 14 on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway (near the Aquarium MBTA stop) from 11am-5pm.  BLFF celebrates “Healthy, Local Food For All” by showcasing local farms, restaurants, food trucks, fishers, specialty food producers, and food and fitness-related organizations from around New England. The festival is a “zero-waste” event that aims to compost or recycle 100 percent of the waste generated at the festival.

The Boston Local Food Festival is produced by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) and is built upon the principles of creating a local, green and fair economy. (Disclosure: I’m an SBN board member.) Earlier this year, SBN was one of the organizations that successfully campaigned to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts. This year’s festival will serve as a launching pad for “A New England Food Vision,” a groundbreaking report from Food Solutions New England (FSNE) that challenges Massachusetts and the New England region to ensure that 50 percent of food consumed is locally produced by 2060.

Mystery seafood -  Photo by Pencil OneThere’s always tons to do at the fest, such as choosing which local restaurants to grab a bite from (servings are all priced at $6 or less), watching chef & DIY demos, and enjoying live music. Since I’m a big fan of TV cooking competitions, one of my favorite activities is the “Seafood Throwdown,” sponsored by Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA).

The competing chefs show up with three of their favorite ingredients, but they don’t know which seafood they’ll have to cook with until they arrive. Each chef gets $25 and 15 minutes to shop the Boston Local Food Festival’s vendors for ingredients, then they get one hour to cook.  This year, the chefs from Community Servings and Restaurant Opportunity Center of Boston will try to wow the judges with their skill and creativity.  As I know from watching the shows, it’s harder than it looks!

This year’s festival will feature an enhanced “Family Fun Zone,” where Nourish Boston will teach you how to grow your own plants and the Urban Hydr-“O” Farmers will show you how to build your own hydroponic system.  You can also explore a tidal pool exhibit from New England Aquarium.  And there’ll be tennis workshops and yoga classes, too.

Check out the BLFF festival website for more info.

 

Jody Adams Cooking Demo

Chef Jody Adams (right) leads a cooking demo at the 2013 Let’s Talk About Food Festival

Grow Your Own Collards and KaleThe Let’s Talk about Food (LTAF) Festival on Saturday, September 27, from 11am-4pm in Boston’s Copley Square is a free event featuring a wide range of activities, from food vendors, hands-on cooking demonstrations, and edible gardens to “Kids Can Cook,” “Ask-a-Chef,” and “Ask-A-Nutritionist” tents. Project Bread is running a “School Food Fair,” and the films Cafeteria Man and Fed Up will be shown.

On Friday, September 26, LTAF is partnering with Food Policy Action to present a “Vote With Your Fork” rally at Trinity Church from 6-8pm on why we should consider candidates’ votes on food and farming legislation when casting our ballots. The event features live music, speakers, and legislators. It’s free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged,

LTAF logoThe festival is organized by Let’s Talk about Food–a national organization founded in Boston in 2010 that is aimed at increasing the level of public literacy about all aspects of our food system.

LTAF holds events designed to get people to talk about everything from allergies to agriculture, school lunch to food science. In addition, LTAF has taken a leadership role in trying to improve the quality of the food served in schools.  In my opinion, bringing Food Day principles into the public schools is one of the fastest and most egalitarian ways to ensure that every child has access to healthy local food, so we need more of these initiatives.

Let’s Talk About Food founder and noted food writer/activist Louisa Kasdon says, “Talking about food leads to action about food. Through these conversations, interactive cooking demonstrations and sampling of healthy foods, we strive to educate and empower action in the kitchen—from changing the food our children eat to the food on the dinner table.”

She adds, “It is our hope that Let’s Talk About Food will improve the health of our community, while reducing the impact our food choices have on the environment.”

Here’s information on the LTAF festival schedule.

Can’t decide which festival to go to? How about both?

The Food Project Embodies the Spirit of Food Day

Youth at The Food Project

Youth meet in a field at The Food Project’s farm on West Cottage Street in Boston’s Dudley neighborhood. Photo copyright Greig Cranna.

There’s something inspiring about seeing long straight rows of collard, kale and Swiss chard growing in the heart of Boston’s Dudley neighborhood.  I admit that I clap at the sight of a single pea shoot coming up in my garden, but I defy anyone not to smile when they see The Food Project’s 1.4 acre pastoral paradise on West Cottage Street.

The Food Project is a nonprofit organization based in Boston and Lincoln, Mass. that seeks to create personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. It produces, sells, and donates healthy food; provides youth leadership opportunities, and promotes social justice.

Setting up for the lunch

The Food Project prepares to serve a feast made from their garden.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in one of The Food Project’s community lunches at the West Cottage Street site. Community members, supporters, and Food Project youth interns were seated at long tables in the field to enjoy a gourmet lunch and hear the youth talk about their experiences.

The Food Project’s primary crop–youth–is far more valuable—and lasting—than the delicious heirloom tomatoes they grow. In addition to sustainable farming, teenagers at The Food Project learn about selling food at farmers markets, distributing it to food banks, and cooking healthy, delicious meals. They also get opportunities to supervise volunteers, do public speaking, and learn about food policy and food justice issues. Unlike many other settings, the youth who are involved in The Food Project’s programs actually get paid for their work.

By recruiting both urban and suburban youth and having them work together in mixed teams that alternate between the urban and suburban/rural settings, The Food Project exposes teenagers to people and places they may not otherwise encounter.

One reason that I’m passionate about promoting local food, gardening and sustainable farming is that they have the potential to unite us across ages, classes, races, ethnicities, cultures and countries. But building communities across these boundaries takes more than just sprinkling a few seeds in the ground; they have to be cultivated. Over the past two decades, The Food Project has developed its own methodology for how to build mutual understanding among diverse groups and it offers resources and trainings for those who want to learn more about their successful model.

Interns at The Food Project

A group of The Food Project interns–Judy, Colleen, Anthony, and Eva–gather just before the start of lunch.

Volunteer chefs—the day I visited, they were from EVOO (evoo is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil), an upscale restaurant in Kendall Square that features organic, local and sustainable ingredients—work with the youth to prepare a buffet of healthy, delicious dishes featuring the foods grown on site. Lucky for me, it was a pescovegetarian feast: smoked salmon was the only non-vegetarian ingredient on the menu. If The Food Project ran a restaurant, I’d be a frequent eater.

In addition to their youth work, The Food Project also runs a variety of other programs, such as helping families and groups build raised bed gardens, providing reduced price produce to low-income families, running a CSA and selling at Farmers Markets, offering cooking and gardening workshops, working with schools and community centers, and serving as a national model for communities that want to start similar programs.

The Food Project is one of the many Massachusetts organizations, farms, restaurants and community members involved in planning activities for Food Day on October 24. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. To learn more about The Food Project’s plans for Food Day, visit their blog, or keep checking the Massachusetts Food Day website.

And if you’re looking for inspiration beyond Food Day, check out the volunteer opportunities at The Food Project.  Because every day should be Food Day.