Irony is on the menu. This year, 614 Media’s Burger and Beer Week will benefit a charity with a focus on healthy eating.
“We have our organizational values,” said Adam Fazio, director of development for Local Matters. “One of those values is celebration, and food is a huge part of celebrating, and if you think about all the ways you are being nourished with the things you are eating, that’s a great thing.”
Fazio has been part of the 12-year-old organization for the past decade and is passionate about its mission of creating healthier communities through food education, access, and advocacy.
“We do that in a lot of different ways,” he says, pointing to the different programs Local Matters has initiated.
For instance, Local Matters partners with other groups and schools to educate young people learning about nutrition for the first time. They are not only taught the basics, but also encouraged to think of eating as an act that can engage all five senses.
“We’ll bring a kiwi into the classroom and say, ‘What does it look like? What color is it? What do you think it feels like?’ And watching the excitement build in the classroom—by the time it is finally time to open up that kiwi, see what the inside of it looks like, and taste it? The kids, you couldn’t stop them from tasting that food.”
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Adults can also benefit from the work of Local Matters. They have started sharing videos on YouTube and Instagram to help local residents with cooking and gardening, and they plan to expand on those offerings in November.
“I have seen how great it is to be able to put a meal on the table and feel really confident doing that,” Fazio said. “I have a 6-year-old myself, and when we’re all hungry and it’s a weeknight, I can get something on the table in 20 minutes. Having the confidence to do that just means we get to spend more time together, and we’re eating really good food that nourishes our bodies.”
Local Matters also brings mobile food markets called “Veggie Vans” into neighborhoods. Although customers can pay for produce with SNAP benefits, and the emphasis is on selling food that is affordable, they also carry avocados.
And while they are touted as a “superfood” and a healthy fat, avocados are also relatively expensive and hard to transport.
“There’s a reason lots of smaller markets don’t carry more expensive items like avocados, but we know that that’s important,” said Fazio. He explained that it’s essential to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable shopping and to allow community members the option of balancing what might seem like a healthy splurge with other lower-cost purchases.
“There’s dignity in choice, and that’s really important,” Fazio noted.
Those choosing to donate to Local Matters can do so simply by entering the (614) Media Burger & Beer Week giveaway. Not only will participants have a chance to win prizes, but every entry is a 25 cent donation to Local Matters (up to $3,000), making this a win-win proposition if we ever saw one.
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