Many things at outdoor festivals can feed the soul – art, music, literature, companionship – but ethically produced food feeds body and soul. What more could a person want in a day out?
On October 25th, YAYA participated in the 9th annual Central Florida VegFest. Hundreds of vendors and awareness groups set up shop for a day of beautiful weather, delicious food, music, and entertainment. Over a half-dozen YAYA members and supporters attended the event, assisting with setup, organization, facepainting, and other duties.
The audience for VegFest already tends toward being socially conscious in their life choices, as they consume foods that are organic, local, or free from animal harm or products. It would make sense that their concern for others would extend to the farm workers who produce these foods, and that was definitely true: the YAYA booth had a fairly steady stream of people curious to learn more.
Several dozen people heard the message, walked away with flyers and pamphlets, and several bought Tshirts, drawn to the cute designs. A strong draw for the booth was the delicious food, due to Cristina’s vegan banana bread, and Ileana’s vegan arroz gandules, which people happily munched as they listened. Most importantly, several teachers took information to dispense in their classrooms, which ranged from elementary to the university level, and were intent on helping spread awareness of the cause. Dozens of signatures were collected by people interested in volunteering or learning more at future events.
Visitors were very interested in Farm Worker Rights once they realized how pervasive the problem is. Many came with some awareness of the message already, although they didn’t know specifics or exactly how widespread the exploitation of farmworkers is. Some seemed to think that the booth was related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but their confusion was quickly clarified by Heather Bryan and Cristina Berrios. Some of the confusion seemed to lay in how YAYA was oriented to the Farmworkers, since YAYA represents youth and young adults and it has a flexible definition of “youth” itself. Besides food and information, the booth offered face painting for a suggested donation of 5 dollars, and several children (and adults!) had their faces painted.
The booth raised almost a hundred dollars in cash. One popular seller was the Publix = Poverty sticker from the CIW Fair Food Campaign. The sticker provided a handy opening to dialogue about businesses in the area that have signed on to the Fair Food Code of Conduct – and more importantly, those that have not, and what people can do about it.
Overall VegFest was a great opportunity to interact with the public about the farm worker cause, and a huge success for YAYA. Thank you everyone who volunteered your time to this deeply important event!
UCF Graduate Student