Chicago Goes Green!

(l-r) Real Food Real Jobs’ Claire Tinley, CPS lunchroom worker Linda Green, O’Hare airport worker Sal Butler, Real Food Challenge’s Katie Blanchard and Slow Food Chicago’s Carrie Schloss speak on a panel at the Green Festival.

Among the yoga demonstrations, vegan and vegetarian food samples, and the eco-friendly fashion booths, UNITE HERE and Real Food Real Jobs had a notable presence at the Green Festival in Chicago. Green Festival is a multi-city expo committed to making our world a more socially, economically, and environmentally just place. Over the weekend of May 18-19th, both we and members of UNITE HERE Local 1 were on hand to engage with festival attendees about our program – and how they can participate to build a better food system!

On Saturday, May 18th we hosted a panel discussion to discuss the potential for change in our food system as workers and food movement activists continue to work together. The panel featured Katie Blanchard, an organizer with Real Food Challenge; Sal Butler, a cook with HMSHost at O’Hare airport; Linda Green, a lunchroom manager with Chicago Public Schools; and Carrie Schloss, a member of the board of directors of Slow Food Chicago. Each member of the panel discussed what they’re doing to improve our food system and the importance of working together to enact change. When asked about a vision for the future of food at O’Hare airport specifically, Sal Butler shared his dream: “Maybe one day Chicago can have a much bigger farm at the airport for all the food we serve!”

In addition to our panel, Real Food Real Jobs spent the weekend at Green Festival sharing copies of our report “Putting Sustainability on the Table: Airport Workers’ Vision for $3 Billion of Food and Drink at O’Hare.” Festival-goers had the opportunity to help advance our mission of a more just food system by filling out surveys to find out what kind of food travelers want to see included in the redevelopment of O’Hare, and by signing our “Let’s Cook!” petition asking the Chicago Board of Education to continue to prioritize fresh-cooked food in schools and to phase out frozen, pre-plated food.

Want to take the O’Hare survey yourself?  Click here!

As personal chef and Slow Food Chicago member Carrie Schloss said during our panel, “There is nothing worse than being a cook and having to microwave food all day.” We certainly agree! Our participation in the Green Festival highlighted the important role that food service workers play in the sustainable food movement and we’ll continue to bring together worker-leaders from the kitchen with leaders from the food movement to ensure that sustainability works for everyone.

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