When Jane Karetney, 19, moved from Brooklyn to the suburbs last year, she thought access to fresh, local produce would be easier.
But Karetney said it was easier to find what she wanted in Brooklyn. The sophomore at Stony Brook University has to make weekly trips to the nearby Wild by Nature or Stop & Shop near campus.
“It’s important for me to eat real, fresh food,” she said.
This week, she was saved the trip.
Across the United States, Monday marked the first Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Communities were encouraged to come together to support healthy, sustainable and affordable eating. The goals also included supporting local farmers and improving conditions for farm workers.
On campus, above, the university’s medical center sponsored events like a farmers market outside the Student Activities Center -- where Karetney picked up her produce -- screenings of the documentaries “Food, Inc.” and “Forks Over Knives,” a professional cooking demonstration by Chef Marc Bynum (a former contestant on the Food Network’s “Chopped”) and a community garlic planting in the hospital garden.
Leah Holbrook, clinical instructor of family medicine at the university, said she wanted to bring events celebrating Food Day to campus to help educate students about making healthy choices.
“The years that people spend in college, for a lot of people, sort of cements certain habits -- specifically, food and activity,” she said. “We want to make sure students here are getting as much education as they can.”
The farmers market, which included five LI farms, is one way to provide access to and educate students about local produce. Students buying produce seemed surprised that their bills were less than they thought.
“Wow, that’s it?” Karetney asked as she paid for her fruits, vegetables and apple cider.
As an added incentive, students could also use their campus meal points to purchase food at the farmers market, Holbrook said. She said the campus also hosts a farmers market several other times throughout the year.
“I don’t think they realize what’s east of here, which is so much farmland, and they can seek it out nearby,” she said.
Monday evening, the medical center planned a community garden lesson at its new rooftop garden above the hospital. The 40-by-20-foot plot was made possible by the Healthy Heart Program of the New York State Department of Health, and in its first season yielded about 200 pounds of produce, said Josephine Connolly-Schoonen, executive director of nutrition services at the hospital.
The produce was incorporated into the hospital patients’ meal plans.
Tina Tiernan, a dietetic intern at the hospital, helped create four recipes used for patients for Food Day. She said she wanted to give the patients a taste of what was being grown in the garden and encourage a diet rich in vegetables.
The homegrown meal was also aimed to educate patients on how easy it is to grow their own food.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that you can grow these vegetables right in your backyard and gets lots of vitamins and nutrients,” she said, “rather than going to the grocery store and spending lots of money.”
Stony Brook University students crowd the on-campus farmers market set up for Food Day. (Oct. 24, 2011)