Nearly five-dozen Sacramento-area restaurants have come together to help fight childhood obesity this September through California Food Literacy Center’s EatSMART fundraising campaign. The campaign, which takes place during Food Literacy Month, adds a voluntary dollar to every restaurant ticket to help children across the region learn food literacy – understanding the impact of food on our health, community and the environment.
“This type of campaign has been wildly successful in cities like London and San Francisco, and we are excited to gather Sacramentans together to ensure our children eat smart,” said Peg Tomlinson-Poswall, chair, California Food Literacy Center.  “I can’t think of another time when this many Sacramento-area restaurants have banded together for a single cause.”
Participating restaurants are not being asked to donate food or money. They will place a card on each table alerting patrons that a voluntary dollar can be added to their bill. Whether the ticket is for a table of 10 or two people, one dollar will be added to fight childhood obesity. 100 percent of the donation will be given to California Food Literacy Center. For a list of participating restaurants, visit http://californiafoodliteracy.org/restaurants-participating-eatsmart/.
“Our customers’ health is important to us, but we know that 25 percent of people in general don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables,” said Kurt Spataro, executive chef at Paragary Restaurant Group, the first to sign on to the campaign. “California Food Literacy Center has a singular vision to change that statistic, and we’re excited to be part of it.”
Some restaurants are taking the campaign a step further. Instead of asking patrons to donate, the Firehouse Restaurant and Ten22 will be donating $1 for every table in September. Ella is donating $1 per entrée purchased in September. The owner of Brooksfield Restaurant is donating 50 cents for every table through September and also joined California Food Literacy Center’s Kids’ Simply Recipes Contest committee, another Food Literacy Month activity.
Restaurants that wish to participate, as well as sponsors that want to support the campaign, can contact executive director Amber Stott at amber@californiafoodliteracy.org.
Proceeds will benefit California Food Literacy Center, which teaches local K-5 children basic cooking skills, nutrition, fruit and vegetable appreciation, food budgets and more while introducing children to healthy, sustainable snacks that taste good. The nonprofit also trains community members as Food Literacy Advocates in its 10-week Food Literacy Academy to teach more children in the community.
“We’ve been running our nonprofit on a shoestring budget, reaching 2,400 kids this year on only $40,000,” said Amber Stott, founding executive director of California Food Literacy Center. “We need to triple that amount by the end of the year to continue our existing programs, expand to more schools and hire a full-time teacher and volunteer coordinator. We’re grateful to all the Sacramento-area restaurants and community members who understand that the time to do something about childhood obesity is now. Our EatSMART campaign can make that happen.”
Last year, Assemblymember Roger Dickinson authored ACR-161, a resolution sponsored by the California Food Literacy Center, to declare September Food Literacy Month in California and to raise awareness about food literacy on the state level. This year’s Food Literacy Month will include the EatSMART restaurant campaign, Kids’ Simply Recipes Contest, Food Literacy Fairs in Woodland and Sacramento, Veggie of the Year contest, an online fundraiser for California Food Literacy Center and several events in partnership with Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Week. For more information, visit www.californiafoodliteracy.org.
California Food Literacy Center was established in July 2011 to educate and inspire low-income children to eat healthy food. Students learn fruit and vegetable appreciation, how to read nutrition labels, basic cooking skills and environmental impacts of their food choices. The nonprofit also runs the Food Literacy Academy, which trains community members as food literacy teachers. To date, the nonprofit has 60 active volunteers and serves 2,400 kids annually. After just three months of food literacy education, 70 percent of students request the foods they have tasted in class, including broccoli, celery and oranges. Ninety-two percent of K-1st grade students say healthy food tastes good, and 88 percent of children understand how to read a nutrition label. To make a donation to California Food Literacy Center, visit www.californiafoodliteracy.org.