This Week In Food Activism News

Since President Donald Trump's inauguration, protests and calls to action have spanned issues ranging from women's rights to immigration. A reported 470,000 people attended the Women's March on January 21 in Washington D.C.; New York City chef April Bloomfield and many other notable chefs marched. Coffee shops all around the country dedicated profits to the American Civil Liberties Union. After the president issued an executive order to stop immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz announced the coffee chain will commit to hiring refugees and Mexican immigrants. The travel ban was later ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and put on hold. However, it's been reported that President Trump will be issuing a new travel ban.

So it's been a busy first month under the new president. There's no doubt that the restaurant and food industries will continue to perform outreach, call for strikes and raise funds to support local and national charities. Every week, we will round up what's new in the world of food activism.


Yesterday, restaurants around the country closed as part of the Day Without Immigrants strike. Anna Bartolini, co-owner of La Balena, a seasonal Italian restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, tells Food Republic that she wasn't able to receive her order of escarole and Brussels sprouts due to the strike. Bartolini partners with a service called Savor the Local, which works with small community farms and delivers produce from the farms to restaurants.

A similar protest, Day Without a Woman strike is planned for March 8, which also falls on International Women's Day.

All Pok Pok restaurants (Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, New York City) will be donating some proceeds to the ACLU this weekend. "We feel strongly that supporting our immigrant brothers and sisters is needed right now," the restaurant posted on Instagram.

This weekend – Feb 18th & 19th all Pok Pok restaurants (PDX, LA, NYC) will be donating part of our proceeds to @aclu_nationwide! We feel strongly that supporting our immigrant brothers and sisters is needed right now. Many other Portland restaurants are participating in whichever way they can. We encourage LA and NYC restaurants to jump in too. Join us! #immigrantswelcome / UPDATED image by @mnkr_brand

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Starting next month, Conflict Kitchen, a Pittsburgh restaurant whose cuisine stems from countries that are in conflict with America, will launch an immigrant guest chef program. The program will feature immigrant or refugee chefs at partnering restaurants, with a focus on Syrian cuisine. The initiative has also been rewarded financial assistance from a local funding agency, Sprout Fund.

The Syrian Supper Club in New Jersey is now booking dinners through May. The twice-weekly dinner club invites Syrian refugee families to cook in New Jersey homes. Tickets to the dinners are sold for $50 and the money goes toward ingredient shopping as well as the family cooking.

For those looking for something more long term than a protest or a pop-up, here's a list of food organizations dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees train for the work force in New York City:

  • The League of Kitchens: Cooking classes are held and open to the public in the homes of these NYC immigrants.

  • Emma's Torch: Culinary training, ESL classes and interview preparation is offered to refugees looking to get into the gastronomic world.

  • Eat Off Beat: A delivery service that offers meals prepared and delivered by refugees now living in New York.