EATS Park City, Summit Community Gardens and Smith’s readies a dinner party
EATS Park City and Summit Community Gardens want community members to pull up a chair and enjoy a night of food and live music with their families during their fourth annual DIG In event.
The fourth annual DIG (Dinner In the Garden) In will be held from 3-6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Summit Community Gardens. Tickets are on sale now at eatsparkcity.org and summitcommunitygardens.org.
Family sponsor tickets for two adults and two kids are $250. The price includes a mention in the program as well as a surprise gift. Regular family tickets for two adults and two kids are $90. Individual adult tickets are $35 each, and childrens’ tickets are $15.
The money from ticket sales will help EATS’ mission to ensure every student has opportunities to develop lifelong healthy eating habits and access to fresh and nutritious food, while also benefiting Summit Community Gardens’s mission to encourage sustainable gardening at high altitude, according to Meaghan Miller-Gitlin, executive director for EATS (Eat Awesome Things At School) Park City.
The night will feature live music by Swagger, arts, crafts and face painting for kids, and food provided by local vendors — Five5eeds, Hearth and Hill, Elie’s Kitchen, Miller-Gitlin said.
The nonprofit is promoting zero-waste impact, so it will give everyone an EATS metal tumbler with their ticket purchases, she said.
“We are also asking all attendees to bring their own plates, although we do have compostable paper plates if people need to use them,” Miller-Gitlin said. “We also have a waste company that will help people learn about what goes into the landfill, what can go into compost and what can be recycled.”
Colie Belieu, garden director for Summit Community Gardens, said the garden is the perfect place to host DIG In.
“We provide a beautiful space where people can see the food growing, and when they get close to food like that, they develop a deeper connection to what they eat,” she said.
Belieu has reworked the DIG In layout so the dining tables will be located in the middle of the gardens.
“That way, people feel they are connected with the foods that are growing,” she said. “We are also trying hard so that the food we grow in the garden are represented in the menu.”
The dinner is a local kick off to Family Meals Month initiative, a nationwide program that encourages families to go to local stores together and purchase ingredients for making and eating meals together.
While Miller-Gitlin furthered her research of Family Meals Month, she learned that Smith’s Food and Drug, and its parent company Kroger, are supporters of the initiative. So, she called to see if the grocery store chain would be interested in sponsoring Dig In.
Smith’s came on board without hesitation, said Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s division corporate affairs manager.
“EATS makes sure kids have healthy food on the table, and that aligns perfectly with what we want to share with the public,” Martindale said. “One in six children are food insecure in the state of Utah, and can you imagine a hungry child showing up at school and being asked to focus on their education?”
Smith’s, like EATS, has a waste-reducing initiative called Zero Hunger, Zero Waste, Martindale said.
“People always ask what happens with all of the food we don’t sell, and I’m afraid people assume we just toss it,” she said. “But that’s not true.”
Instead, Smith’s donates any perishable food that is unsellable that still has nutritional value, like an apple that has a blemish, to local food banks or Smith’s partner pantries, Martindale said.
“We donate food to these places on a daily basis,” she said.
In light of the Zero Waste aspect of the initiative, Martindale said if the food isn’t edible, it’s put into a “cow chow” bin used to create animal feed.
Zero Waste also means recycling, according to Martindale.
“We recycle cardboard, plastic and plastic bags,” she said. “As many people know, you can’t curbside recycle plastic bags because it jams up the machines, but you can bring your plastic bags to Smith’s.”
The bags brought to Smith’s are turned into materials that are used to make public benches and decks, according to Martindale.
“We also recycle our meat renderings and bone marrow as well as used cooking oil for biodiesel,” she said.
The reason Smith’s started the initiative is because researchers found that 40 percent of food produced for grocery stores goes to waste, Martindale said.
“It’s baffling to think that so much food is going to waste when you have many hungry children and hungry families,” she said.
Miller-Gitlin said the Smith’s sponsorship has expanded EATS Park City and Summit Community Garden’s reach.
“When you have a handful of people telling everyone about our mission, it reaches some ears, but when that handful of people grows into a community of people like what Smith’s reaches, the words are getting into more ears,” she said. “The more people hear about how different organizations are battling food insecurity, people may look around and wonder if their neighbors’ kids are eating dinner tonight. And they might be more inclined to help.”
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