In kicking off World Food Day, Mandela Foods Cooperative will host the “Where’s WANDA?” children’s book talk and signing with DC-based author and nutrition activist Tambra Raye Stevenson, on Sun., October 15th from 2 to 4 p.m. at 1430 7th Street in Oakland. Stevenson is the founder and CEO of WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture and heads the Health Committee for the NAACP branch in Wash., D.C.
“Diabetes took my grandma’s life due to her sweet tooth, depression and sedentary lifestyle. Now as a mom, I want to be a better example for my daughter and encourage her to make better choices,” says Stevenson. “I want women to recreate a world where our girls are supported by a village of WANDA women who inspire them to become future nutritionists, food policymakers, healthy food entrepreneurs, food writers and farmers that are communities desperately need.”
“Where’s WANDA? Little WANDA Finds a Cure for Nana” introduces a new girl character, Little WANDA as the “Doc McStuffins” of nutrition meets “Dora the Explorer” for Africa. Bringing black girl magic from farm to fork, Little WANDA leads young readers on a food adventure across Nigeria to find a cure for her Nana’s diabetes with the help of a local female farmer.
“The “Where’s Wanda?” series brings a new awareness to young women in how they can be more involved with nutrition locally and more importantly “globally.” Little Wanda looks like them and represents their children. It’s a cultural insight into our daily lives. Food sheroes like me love it,” says Oakland resident and owner of Wanda’s Cooking, Wanda Blake.
Seeing a lack of main girl characters, especially of color, Stevenson was inspired by her daughter to create a character for her to role model to embrace good nutrition and consider going into the field of agriculture and nutrition. So she decided to do something by creating this new book series and a nonprofit to promote more women and girls leading in the food system.
As a local champion, Cuisine Noir Magazine has been raffling copies of the book on social media. “Ms. Stevenson’s book helps to start an important conversation for families about the connection between health, culture and food. In addition, I love the book because it empowers little girls around the world to be influencers for their generation and others at any age,” says V. Sheree Williams, publisher of Cuisine Noir magazine.
Written in English and Hausa, an African language, the book addresses gender equity, education, health and wellbeing and nutrition related to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations to promote global citizenship too.
“I wrote this book based on my journey in finding my roots in northern Nigeria as a nutritionist. I wanted to write a book to inspire kids that their heritage, gender and local food ways has value to heal our community!” That’s the message from the National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year, and internationally recognized nutrition educator Tambra Raye Stevenson.
Stevenson also shares her message as a contributing writer in the recently released “Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” by food historian and author Michael Twitty who was recently in San Francisco for his book signing and dinner talk at MoAD.
Featured in Forbes this summer, Stevenson is on a mission to inspire a new generation of women and girls to become food heroes to build and sustain healthy communities and economies in communities like Oakland and across the Diaspora and Africa.
“The book highlights the nonprofit WANDA which creates a pipeline and platform to educate, advocate, innovate and celebrate about the role of women and girls leading in creating a better food system,” says Stevenson, a D.C. Food Policy Council Member. “As a first-time author, I have enjoyed the emails and posts from parents, educators and health providers, who resonate with story and character Little WANDA in the bilingual book series.
“We are excited for WANDA connecting young girls to the food system is critical and filling a void in women’s role in agriculture. WANDA’s voice is needed to reconnect us to the land and we support WANDA,” says Dr. Gail Myers, co-founder of Farms to Grow, Inc.
“As we work to better educate our girls to become healthy eaters, readers and leaders, we must shine the light on women—WANDA Women—who are making an impact as food leaders in our community like Gail Myers of Freedom’s Farmer’s Market in Oakland to Mrs. Salamatu Garba of Kano, Nigeria—who is highlighted in the first book,” Stevenson says.
The book signing and discussion is free and open to the public. Following the book event, a special dinner with area women food leaders will be held at Ivy Moon restaurant from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to support WANDA. Tickets are available at www.iamwanda.org.