Kansas City-area pedestrians could find themselves on the receiving end of a juicy surprise Wednesday.
Local activists expect to give away more than 3,000 locally grown apples as part of their participation in Food Day, a national event reinitiated last year with approximately 2,300 activities throughout the county.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., revived the 1970s era event as a “nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”
The local effort, which spans several days, is a collaboration of more than 20 organizations including the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, Cultivate Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Also involved is Healthy Communities Wyandotte, a community-improvement initiative for Kansas City, Kan. and the surrounding areas. Its program coordinator is Caitlin McMurtry.
She described Food Day as a “very interesting hodgepodge” of ideals that takes in everything from nutrition and hunger to animal welfare and economic justice for farmworkers.
Plus, she said, “I think it’s a great celebration of food and it’s a way get back to what food was. It was a way to bring people together in a sense of community, and not just a way to check something off during the day – hitting a drive-thru and getting stressed out about it.”
McMurty is coordinating an event at Wyandotte High School, 2501 Minnesota Ave. in Kansas City, Kan., scheduled to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Plans include a free dinner for all children and the first 150 adults, culinary experts demonstrating healthy twists to ethnic foods and a partial screening of Weight of the Nation, an HBO documentary series on obesity.
As for the apples, volunteers are scheduled to be busy at five “apple share” sites around the metropolitan area, including at a Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles office in Johnson County and at American Century Investments’ headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.
At KU Med, Food Day organizer Adrienne Baxter said as many as 30 students would distribute apples at about a dozen locations on campus and at satellite facilities, such as the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion in Westwood, Kan., and the Clinical Research Center in Fairway, Kan.
A clinical instructor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, Baxter said she was a longtime admirer of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
She embraced the idea of Food Day and last year worked to promote it with members of the steering committee of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, which has a mission in line with the broad goals of Food Day.
The main program last year was an information event at the City Market with about 20 booths from local organizations and agencies. The “apple share” idea emerged this year, Baxter said, as a way to reach more people.
She said the apples would serve as an icebreaker to start a conversation with the recipient around the “Eat Real!” motto of Food Day.
Cultivate Kansas City, an organization dedicated to spurring healthy food options through urban farming, has organized a “Crop Mob,” scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 27.
Program Assistant Ami Freeberg said volunteers were scheduled to help at 15 urban farming sites throughout the metropolitan area with tasks including mulching, weeding and planting garlic.
Those interested in helping can sign up by emailing the organization at email@example.com
“It really helps people think about what they are eating when they go out and see it growing on a city lot in their neighborhood,” Freeberg said. “So, it’s both educational and a huge help to the farmers to get volunteers out there – and, people have fun.”