Farm-to-Fork Festival debuts at Sac State


Sacramento will host its inaugural Farm-to-Fork Festival in the Library Quad on Sept. 14, to celebrate the campus’ fresh food and healthy eating tradition by showcasing free cooking demonstrations and other educational activities. [Photo courtesy of Farm-to-Fork Festival at Sac State]

Sharlene Phou

Sacramento State will launch its inaugural Farm-to-Fork Festival and Dinner on Sept. 14 to help  increase food-insecurity awareness and educate students on healthy eating habits.

Farm-to-fork is a locally coined and nationally known concept celebrating area organic food and produce. It aims to promote the region’s agriculture that is responsible for bringing fresh, quality ingredients to the table.

At Sac State, the three-hour daytime festival will be held in the library quad, with numerous free cooking demonstrations on budget-friendly cooking, as well as education booths from ASI Pop-Up Pantry and other local and campus organizations.

World food systems expert Raj Patel will deliver the keynote speech to a crowd of 176 guests at the Guy West Plaza before heading toward the Guy West Bridge for the Italian themed, buffet-style dinner, prepared by students of professor Kelly Thompson’s food production and sustainability class.

Nutrition and food studies alumnus Brandon Venerable brought the movement to Sac State’s Guy West Bridge to host a dining experience that would mirror the city of Sacramento’s famed Farm-to-Fork dinner on the Tower Bridge, which is currently underway for its fourth year in a row.

These student chefs will use only locally sourced ingredients from area farms that normally partner with establishments like Raley’s, Produce Express and the Capital Public Radio garden.

Thompson said the main goal for Sac State’s own farm-to-fork celebration is to raise money for the ASI Food Pantry, which will in turn help feed students who are facing food insecurity while living on or off-campus.

“My students are very excited to do this and proud to be showing off their knowledge and skills and to help out fellow students because that’s the main goal,” Thompson said.

At each dinner table, a student host will begin a conversation with diners about the problems of food insecurity and sustainability.

“The role of those student hosts is not just to be an ambassador for the campus, but they’re also going to be responsible for moderating a discussion at their table,” said Lynn A. Hanna, associate professor and event coordinator of the department of family and consumer sciences.

The campus Sustainable Technology Optimization Research Center will collect any food scraps leftover from the dinner and turn them into compost before getting converted into methane to power Hornet Shuttles.

Andriana Lewis, senior nutrition major and one of the student chefs for the dinner, said that it is important to support the local economy by buying and eating organic ingredients from nearby growers and help cut down on greenhouse gases. Lewis said she also hopes to introduce guests to the vast amount of resources and services that the city and Sac State have to offer.
Tickets were $50 each for the sold-out Sept. 14 event that planned to seat just 150 guests, but later expanded to 176 due to high demands from supporters of the concept.

Additional reporting by Marissa Murcko