El Segundo High School

In the countdown to the Special Olympics World Games, nutrition abounds during key events

With five days to go until the July 25 Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games (#LA2015), the excitement is heating up with key events announced last week, all focused on the best in nutrition that California has to offer!

The Special Olympics World Games will be held on July 25 to Aug. 2, with over 7,000 athletes competing, representing 165 countries, performing to an anticipated crowd of 500,000 spectators. This is the biggest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic games.

This past Thursday, 8,000 staff and volunteers were abuzz as they received their official uniforms at the Herbalife Los Angeles Distribution Center in Carson.

Volunteers were given different colored shirts for different assignments at the games.

In addition to being the Uniform Distribution Center, Herbalife is also donating 300,000 nutrition bars to athletes and volunteers participating in this year’s event. Nutrition is a big theme of #LA2015.

These staff and volunteers were excited to hear about another nutrition focused event announced this week called “Picnic in the Park!” Over 5,000 Special Olympic athletes and families from around the world will be treated to a “Picnic in the Park” put on by California farmers and private chefs! The dinner event, presented by the County of Los Angeles and Supervisor Don Knabe, will be held July 28 at Grand Park in Los Angeles. The event is meant to pay tribute to the family members of the competing athletes. A distinguishing characteristic of the Special Olympics World Games is the Families Program, which honors the family members of the competing athletes to recognize their support, encouragement, dedication and sacrifice in helping their athletes reach the pinnacle of competition in the 2015 World Games.

At the event 11 celebrity chefs from all over Southern California will prepare the meal with donated produce by farmers from all across the state. California chefs Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC, Tavern), Neal Fraser (Redbird), Susan Feniger (Border Grill), Brian Dunsmoor (The Hatchet Hall), Bruce Kalman (Union), Sal Marino (Il Grano), Nick Shipp (Upper West),Tim Kilcoyne (Scratch), Corina Weibel (Canele), Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections) and Jason Prendergast (Tender Greens),  will be paired with California farmers including Weiser Family Farm, McGrath Family Farms, Tamai Farms, Tutti Frutti Farm, Coleman Family Farm, Windrose Farm, J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch, Drake Family Farm, Roan Mills, Peter Schaner Farm and Valdivia Farm to offer tastes of California’s very best in seasonal produce. For dessert, Sprinkles Cupcakes will contribute more than 2,000 cupcakes.

Furthermore, the dinner picnic will be help in in conjunction with the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Additionally, worker trainees and volunteers from LA Kitchen and will prepare a summer fruit salad for over 5,000 people, using donated produce collected by Food Forward. I am so impressed with these philanthropic organizations. L.A. Kitchen is a Los Angeles based initiative that believes that neither food nor people should ever go to waste. L.A. Kitchen reclaims healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, trains men and women who are unemployed for jobs, and provides healthy meals to fellow citizens. Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same. The Santa Monica Farmers Market is committed to promoting healthful eating and sustainable agriculture in California by providing fresh agricultural products from small farms to urban customers, thereby building community and preserving California farmland.

Jeff Carr, Chief Operating Officer of LA2015, the World Games Organizing Committee, speaks of the event saying that “We are so grateful to the County of Los Angeles and these renowned chefs and farms for their support of this endeavor as we celebrate the family members of the 6,500 athletes that will compete in these World Games. We look forward to showcasing the outstanding restaurants and businesses that make Los Angeles, and this state, such a world-class destination.”

So, to all of the parties who are honoring the World Games athletes with nutritional choices, while showing the world just how Los Angeles comes together as a community to support inclusion for all of our friends with intellectual disabilities, I say “thank you.” And, “Yumm!”