It was just last week that several dozen chefs came to Washington for a single cause - to lobby lawmakers for a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Many of these chefs are well-known in homes across the U.S., with a growing reputation as national celebrities. Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio certainly added some serious star power to the mix.
This Capitol Hill stampede was organized as part of the Chef Action Network, a non-profit organization that develops a national network of chefs and restaurateurs committed to advocacy and change in the food system. It's a new and growing role for chefs, and a welcome one at that. Child Nutrition Reauthorization needs all the help it can get, as millions of children rely on increasingly healthy school meals, wellness programs, and other initiatives to help improve access to nutritious foods.
Tom Colicchio, the ring leader, prepped the other chefs for their time in Washington. This comes as no surprise, as Chef Colicchio has emerged as quite the food advocate, having also founded Food Policy Action in 2012.
"Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. Our goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues. Through education and the National Food Policy Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to vote with their forks and elect more food policy leaders across the country."
It is a GREAT resource that ranks how all members of Congress voted on major pieces of food legislation. Issues range from GMOs to food safety, among others. Spin off advocacy efforts, such as Plate of the Union, have been developed to keep issues like food and farming at the forefront during this election season.
Perhaps, when taken together, the Chef Action Network and Plate of the Union, among others, will help elevate the importance of these issues so that Washington knows these chefs mean business.
Chefs, keep it coming.