Food for thoughtfulness
Eat for Equity founder, SPH student Emily Torgrimson, helps a little go a long way.
The crowd mills around the living room as cheerful guys pour home- brewed beer. People chat with newly made friends and eye the food being carried out of the kitchen and filling the dining room table. In the backyard, others gather around a campfire, talking, laughing, and listening to music. All have donated a modest amount to be part of the evening and support a cause they believe in.
MPH student Emily Torgrimson is the creative force behind these sympatico gatherings and the growing community that comes together every month to “eat, drink, do good, and be merry.” As founder of Eat for Equity (E4E), a non-profit with food as its centerpiece, Torgrimson is nurturing a new generation of philanthropists.
Over the course of the last five years, Eat for Equity has given away more than $30,000 collected at the dinners. “That amount was made up of $5 or $10 or $30 donations,” says Torgrimson. “I’m so touched when I think of how many people helped raise that money.” Recent E4E beneficiaries include the American Refugee Committee, Heart of the Beast Theater, and Youth Farm and Market Project.
Cook it, and they will come
When Torgrimson was a junior at Boston University, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Wanting to help, she made a big batch of jambalaya and asked friends to come eat with her and throw in a dollar or two for hurricane relief. A hundred people showed up, and she cooked again the next month. Eat for Equity was born.
“By pooling all our fairly small contributions, we felt we could make a collective impact,” she says. When Torgrimson returned to Minnesota, she brought Eat for Equity with her—it has been thriving here since 2007.
Everyone deserves to eat well
In the spring, Torgrimson will graduate with a degree in community health promotion. Not surprisingly, her particular interest is food access and affordability. “With Eat for Equity, we spend an average of $3 per person and buy local, organic products whenever possible,” she says. “Part of my personal and professional mission is to show that, although it’s not easy, it is possible to eat ethical food on a budget.”
Soon Torgrimson will be taking the Eat for Equity model on the road. Last Thanksgiving morning, NBC’s “Today Show” aired a segment on Eat for Equity. Since then, Torgrimson has received inquiries from dozens of people who want to learn from her experiences and start their own chapters. This summer, Torgrimson and the E4E volunteer staff are launching a mobile kitchen tour to spend a week each in 24 cities training a core group of organizers on how to bring people together in the spirit of giving and to feed them well.
- Learn more about Eat for Equity at eatforequity.org