From 2013 – 2014, Millahcayotl offered bi-monthly bilingual (Spanish/English) cooking workshops in partnership with Dolores Street Community Services. The workshops were open to everyone and completely free to all participants. We prepared healthy vegan dishes that emphasized local, fresh and accessible foods, while creating a space to enjoy community and discuss issues around healthy eating. Participants were encouraged to share their own recipes and stories around eating, cooking and growing food, so as to celebrate and learn from the rich tapestry of individual and cultural experiences.
Low income communities in the United States often have limited access to healthy foods and an increased risk of diet-related diseases. Our aim was to build resources for healthy eating by exploring recipes, ingredients, cooking techniques and shopping tips. In so doing, we connected these activities with the broader social, cultural, economic and political issues that affect our food systems. Acknowledgment of the structural inequality that affects food choices was central to our workshop program, in two ways. We strived to work pragmatically within the framework of this acknowledgement so that the workshops could be a practical resource for participants’ everyday lives. We also fostered discussion on the causes of this inequality, effects on people’s food habits, and possible ways to create systemic change.
Some workshops had a specific nutritional and dietary theme, such as whole foods or healthy fats. Others had a national theme, where we drew upon the traditional dishes and ingredients of a country to create a tasty meal while discussing current challenges to their food systems and the struggles that exist to protect them, always connecting the global to the local.
Bayview HEAL Zone
Millahcayotl participated in Community Bike Builds held in 2013 – 2014 by the SF Bicycle Coalition and POWER as part of the HEAL Zone initiative in the Bayview district of San Francisco. During the Bike Builds, participants received a reclaimed bike and learned basic upkeep and safety rules. Physical activity and adequate nutrition are both vital to health; likewise, access to affordable transportation, public space and healthy food are central to the autonomy and health of a community. The Bike Builds approached these issues as a whole, with Millahcayotl providing tasty vegan food and talks on healthy eating.