National Museum of American History Hosts Virtual Annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend and Gala Themed “Food Futures: Striving for Justice”

Blue and gold text with swirly teal and blue designs on the right

Julia Child Foundation To Present Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank With Julia Child Award at Smithsonian Gala

Previous Julia Child Award Recipients Jacques Pépin, Rick Bayless, Danny Meyer, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and José Andrés To Participate

Free Virtual Events Feature Food Leaders and Activists, Cooking Demos, Conversations and Food Justice Galleries With Devita Davison of FoodLab Detroit, Vinny Eng, of SF New Deal, Former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Others


The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will virtually host its sixth annual Food History Weekend and Gala Oct. 15–17, a multifaceted event that explores one of the most pressing current food issues: food justice. The “Gala from Home” will kick-off the three-day weekend inviting guests to participate in a series of online conversations, the future of beer brewing, demonstrations and activities surrounding the theme Food Futures: Striving for Justice. The events are free and open to all, but registration is required. More details are available at Smithsonian Food History Weekend.

“Food justice is a critical topic as the nation continues to deal with concurrent, painful pandemics,” said Anthea M. Hartig, Ph.D., the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “As the nation’s history museum and the home to Julia Child’s kitchen and the American Food History Project, we are eager to explore and share the insights about the long interplay between the nation’s past and the complicated, rich history of food.”

The hourlong virtual Gala from Home, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET, features the presentation of the sixth annual Julia Child Award by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

The award recognizes an individual (or team) who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks. This year, the Julia Child Foundation is recognizing food activist, author and Food Tank co-founder Danielle Nierenberg as a global thought leader on a mission to build a more equitable food system and as a champion for underrepresented voices in the industry.

The evening will feature speakers from around the globe, with special remarks from Frances Moore Lappé, author of the influential Diet for a Small Planet; Kathleen Merrigan, a former deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, who will present the award. Previous Julia Child Award recipients Jacques Pépin, Rick Bayless, Danny Meyer, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and José Andrés will pop in for the event’s sixth anniversary.

The gala is an informal fundraiser benefitting the museum’s American Food History Project, from researching and collecting stories and objects to enhancing its digital presence. This year, the project’s goal is to establish a paid internship focusing on providing mentoring and professional learning to individuals from communities underrepresented in the museum and food studies fields.

The museum encourages participants to consider a donation in support of these important new initiatives. The suggested basic donation is $50, but participants may also sign up as Individual Sponsors starting at the $300 level, which includes a “Box for Good” filled with gifts, coupons and other surprises.

The weekend’s events continue with the “Deep Dish Dialogues” on World Food Day, Oct. 16. Panelists for the first Dialogue include Nierenberg; José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup; Leah Penniman, co-director of Soul Fire Farm; Vimlendra Sharan, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Liaison Office for North America; and Laura Reiley, business of food reporter for The Washington Post. Over the course of two days, a range of speakers from across the country will discuss COVID-19’s impact on hunger, why food justice matters, rebuilding the food system and discussions surrounding food workers.

The weekend will also offer three “Cooking Up History” demonstrations Oct. 16, featuring Jocelyn Ramirez, chef and founder of Todo Verde, Los Angeles; Nico Albert, chef and Cherokee Nation educator, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Haile Thomas, integrative nutritionist and youth health activist, who are working with their communities to support equitable food access and nutrition.

On Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., “Last Call: Beer Futures,” a live evening program with music by Les The DJ, will conclude the weekend. Award-winning beer writer Dennis Malcolm Byron, aka Ale Sharpton, will moderate a conversation among Latiesha Cook, Beer Kulture; Tiffany Fixter, Brewability Lab; Diane Gooding, Gooding Farms Inc.; and Tamil Maldonado, Raíces Brewing Co. The speakers will discuss their work to build inclusive, creative, sustainable futures for beer in the United States. Attendees may purchase a special beer package and taste along with the panel.

Throughout the weekend visitors will have the opportunity to reflect on food justice movements in history through online galleries featuring artworks, short videos, poetry readings and museum collections, as well as curated content provided by:

· Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories, Grace Young, author and culinary historian from New York City;

· "A Non-Compensable Narrative from Holly Springs Road," Gabrielle Eitienne, cultural preservationist, writer, and filmmaker, from North Carolina; and

· Juan Felipe Hererra, poet, educator and activist from California.

Major support for the 2020 Smithsonian Food History Weekend and Gala from Home is provided by the Winiarski Family Foundation, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, the Brewers Association and Clark Construction Group LLC, with additional support from Marcia Myers Carlucci, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, Nordic Ware, Potomac Construction, Dr. Bruce E. Spivey and Amanda Spivey, Eric and Cynthia Spivey and Wegmans. “Last Call” is made possible by support from the Brewers Association. The American Food History Project is made possible by Warren and Barbara Winiarski │Winiarski Family Foundation and supporters of the Winemakers’ Dinner and Smithsonian Food History Gala.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open Friday through Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Admission is free, but reserved timed-entry passes are required. To make reservations, visit Follow the museum on social media on Twitter and Instagram @amhistorymuseum and on Facebook at @americanhistory. We are using #SmithsonianFood for the weekend events. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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Valeska Hilbig
Holden Davitian