The University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies will launch its public programming with a Food Justice Film Festival at the Loft Cinema at 7 p.m. on February 10, 2016, and with a Food Justice, Faith and Climate Change Forum with internationally-recognized speakers, scholars and activists on February 11-12th.
The recent creation of the Center for Regional Food Studies, housed in the Southwest Center in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, coincided with Tucson being named the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in North America. The center will play an essential role in helping the city of Tucson carry out the educational and outreach commitments connected with the designation.
“As Tucson receives long-overdue recognition for the antiquity, continuity and current vitality of its food production and cuisines, we wish to foster and monitor initiatives to see that a wide segment of our community benefits nutritionally, culturally and economically from innovations in our food system,” explained Gary Paul Nabhan, the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and the center’s director. “The Food Justice Mini-Film Festival and the two-day forum will stimulate dialogue and help us build toward projects that will help our foodshed fully recover from the challenges it has faced since the economic recession began.”
The Food Justice, Faith and Climate Change Forum, which will be held in the UA ENR2 Building, will address issues such as farmworker and food service worker health; social justice for Native American and immigrant farmers; school and church garden programs; and regional responses to climatic catastrophes. Leaders in food justice from New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado and Washington, D.C., will share their success stories and engage in dialogues with local leaders.
The forum is free and open to the public. It is hosted by the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Southwest Center, Institute of the Environment, and the Departments of Religious Studies and Classics. It is co-sponsored by the City of Tucson, Edible Baja Arizona, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and several interfaith organizations.
The center will be also offering a suite of seven, four-day short courses in Local Food Systems and Rural Community Development through the UA’s Continuing & Professional Education program at the UA Tech Park. It also plans to place students as interns with local business alliances, nonprofits, community gardens and government agencies and to seek funding to foster international exchanges of food artisans and scholars from other UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy, such as Ensenada, Mexico, and Zahle, Lebanon.