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Posts Tagged ‘fast food’

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Photo: Jackson Food and Art Festival
A food festival in Mississippi incorporates the arts to address nutrition issues.

It’s a good thing that philanthropies are able to support projects that improve lives in communities, because low-income municipalities can’t afford to tackle as many concerns as they’d like. Among the initiatives that Bloomberg Philanthropies supports are arts programs that address human needs.

As ArtForum reports, “Jackson, Mississippi, is the latest city to be awarded a $1 million Public Art Challenge Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. … The funds will support the project ‘Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access,’ which aims to inform policy related to nutrition by using art as a medium to communicate the complexities of the issue in the city. Local and national artists, landscape architects, filmmakers, farmers, chefs, nutritionists, and community members will be invited to collaborate on a citywide exhibition featuring installations and performances, as well as other programming.

“The initiative will activate public streets, community gardens, a local elementary school, and a vacant building, which will be converted into exhibition space and a food lab with a pop-up kitchen, to address challenges stemming from the proliferation of fast food restaurants in the area. According to the Clarion-Ledger, many areas of Jackson are considered food swamps where there is almost no access to grocery stores.

Due to the overabundance of fast food, the city has the second highest obesity rate in the nation and the highest rate for children between the ages of ten and seventeen.

“ ‘The city is overjoyed to have been selected in this process,’ Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said in a statement. ‘This was a highly competitive grant.’ …

“Among those participating in the project are artists Adrienne Domnick and Kara Walker; filmmakers Keegan Kuhn and Roderick Red; Mark Bittman, the country’s first food-focused op-ed columnist for the New York Times and a faculty member of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; chef Nick Wallace; clean eating advocate Ron Finley; and landscape architect Walter Hood.

“In February [2018], Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of US cities with thirty thousand residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues.” More here.

And click here to read descriptions of other winning projects, including one to help heal the community after the Parkland school shooting: “The City of Coral Springs in partnership with the City of Parkland proposes developing five temporary installations to bring the community together in collective healing and reflection following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of 2018. The artworks will serve as the community’s vision of change and hope for the future. The project will draw on and support Coral Springs Museum of Art’s ‘Healing with Art,’ an art therapy program which began as an immediate response to the shooting.”

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Lately, there have been so many stories about kindhearted people tucked in among the opposite kind of headline that, at this rate, if I wait another week there will be too many for one blog post. A good problem to have, of course, but I think I’ll just go ahead and give you what I’ve collected so far.

First there was the woman who went to the Toys R Us in Bellingham and paid off all the layaway plans. Then there was the woman who did the same thing in another Massachusetts town.

Next was the widow who put her engagement ring and wedding ring in a red Salvation Army bucket hoping that, if someone bought them, the charity would receive $20,000. Another widow did just that. She also put out the word that she would like to give the rings back to the first widow.

On Cape Cod, a man believed to be an emissary of a grateful resident has been showing up in fast-food restaurants, asking the manager how many people work there, and dolling out that number of $100 bills. All those generous souls are anonymous.

If you’re not full to bursting yet, how about the homeless man in Preston, UK, who gave a student his last $3 to get a taxi after she lost her money? And how about the student herself, who then organized her friends for on overnight on the streets and raised over £20,000? Now the homeless man is getting an apartment and advising on ways to help the nonprofits that had helped him.

Sam Rkaina at the Mirror writes, “A campaign to raise money for a homeless man has raised an incredible £21,000 after it went viral. Dominique Harrison-Bentzen set up the appeal for an ‘incredibly kind’ homeless man called Robbie who offered her £3 for a taxi home when she lost her bank card on a night out.

“She set up a fundraising page to pay for a deposit on a flat for him and yesterday took part in a 24 hour sleep-out on the streets of Preston. The 22-year-old says she has been overwhelmed by the support from the public after the fundraising target was completely smashed.” More on that story here.

Photo: The Mirror
Dominique, second from left, and friends experiencing a night of homelessness to raise funds.

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Around the country, generous people have been “paying it forward”– doing a good deed for someone else that was done for them.

Only in this case, it’s more backward than forward because it involves paying for whatever the person behind you at the drive-thru has ordered. It’s become surprisingly widespread, according to Kate Murphy, writing at the NY Times today.

“If you place an order at the Chick-fil-A drive-through off Highway 46 in New Braunfels, Tex., it’s not unusual for the driver of the car in front of you to pay for your meal in the time it took you to holler into the intercom and pull around for pickup. …

“You could chalk it up to Southern hospitality or small town charm. But it’s just as likely the preceding car will pick up your tab at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through in Detroit or a McDonald’s drive-through in Fargo, N.D. Drive-through generosity is happening across America and parts of Canada, sometimes resulting in unbroken chains of hundreds of cars paying in turn for the person behind them.

“Perhaps the largest outbreak of drive-through generosity occurred last December at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg, Manitoba, when 228 consecutive cars paid it forward. A string of 67 cars paid it forward in April at a Chick-fil-A in Houston. And then a Heav’nly Donuts location in Amesbury, Mass., had a good-will train of 55 cars last July.” More.

I love the idea, but I think I missed something. Do you give the order taker an extra $20 and get the change when you pick up your meal at the next window? Or does the cost of the stranger’s meal have to go on your credit or debit card?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Drive-thru food outlet

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An early version of fast food, as many readers will recall, was the Automat. You didn’t wait for a waiter to wait on you. You took your nickels and quarters to a wall of little doors, popped the coins in where you saw what you wanted to eat, opened the little door, and then took your piece of pie or sandwich or whatever to a table where, more often than not, you dined with strangers.

I found this recent NY Times story by Sam Roberts charming.

“The Automat is being recreated at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue starting Friday for an exhibition on lunch. …

“The Automat, which first opened in Philadelphia, was democratic, because its tables accommodated customers from every class. It replaced the free lunch at saloons shuttered by Prohibition. The chrome and brass vending machines framed by Italian marble conveyed cleanliness, because the workers who prepared the food were invisible behind the spinning steel drums that fed the machines. …

“In a doctoral dissertation at Cornell University, Alec Tristin Shuldiner noted that compared with Philadelphians, New Yorkers wanted more sugar in their stewed tomatoes, favored seafood, except for oysters, craved clam chowder and chicken pies, and eschewed scrapple. …

“The playwright Neil Simon once wrote of his Automat memories, recalling that he learned more from his dining partners there than during three years at Princeton:

‘And the years went by and I turned from a day customer to a night patron, working on those first attempts at monologues and sketches at two in the morning, over steaming black coffee and fresh cheese Danish. And a voice from the stranger opposite me.

‘ “Where you from? California?”

‘ “No. I grew up in New York.”

‘ “Is that so? Where in New York?”

‘ “At this table.” ’ ”

But perhaps you’d like to read the whole thing.

Photograph: Berenice Abbott, NY Public Library

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