Students and experts discuss food systems at Cal Poly Food Day. | Tim Wetzel/Mustang News

Students were treated to free food samples and entertainment at Cal Poly Food Day on Thursday afternoon. The event featured locally grown food, as well as group discussions on sustainability and live music.

The event was a collaboration by Solutions Through Research In Diet and Exercise (STRIDE) and the Cal Poly Real Food Collaborative. Community liaison Stephanie Teaford has been part of STRIDE since its inception.

“We’re just acting as the organizing body to provide the opportunity for everyone to come together for Food Day,” Teaford said. “It was a program that grew out of the kinesiology program, and it is a research center that looks for solutions to obesity through diet and exercise.”

According to Dr. Marilyn Tseng, this is Cal Poly’s first year participating in the national event, which has existed since 2011.

“(Food Day) was really meant to celebrate food and to increase awareness of food and food systems,” Tseng said. “Since we have so many different departments and students who are interested in the topic of food, we thought it would be good to bring that national movement here on campus.”

Ellen Curtis, director of marketing and communication at Cal Poly Corporation, helped represent Campus Dining at their booth. Curtis showed off products sold on campus, which come from local businesses, including Edna’s Bakery.

“They just came out with a new product line and they wanted to showcase that,” Curtis said. “We (also) have our Family Tree Produce distributor, who works to source locally grown, organic vegetables.”

The first hour of the event consisted of a musical performance by Pleasantly, a local band consisting of Cal Poly students. After this, Tseng introduced nutritionist Sarah Ramirez to the stage. Ramirez gave an emotional speech, encouraging students to help fix the food system.

“I’m looking and working in my community, and thinking about ways to democratize good food for all,” Ramirez said. “There are so few people that are able to participate in the ‘good food’ world that’s so accessible to some of us … do we create a sense of complacency because we no longer have the urgency to address the need for real food for everybody?”

After a short break, Ramirez, Tseng and Teaford sat down with a panel of experts to have a conversation with students about sustainability and the food system as a whole.

“We have a panel of speakers with that goal in mind – to remind you of your relationship with food,” Tseng said. “Not only to show how important the food system is to you, but also how important you are to the food system.”

STRIDE and the Real Food Coalition plan to make this an annual event, having it impact students all around campus.

“Cal Poly Food Day is tied to a national movement,” Curtis said. “It’s a chance to recognize where we get our food from and look at sustainability practices.”

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