On Saturday September 20, 2014, Tostan was invited to participate in an event called “The Meal.”  This event allows for men and women from 50 countries worldwide to sit down and share a meal together, using Skype video conferencing to connect with others. This is Tostan’s first time participating in the annual event.

The idea is to gather a large number of people—simultaneously throughout the planet—to share a meal and support farmers to favor growing and producing local food, as well as promoting the right of populations to have access to natural resources like land, water, forests, and seeds. In Senegal this year, the theme was “Consume locally: A patriotic act.” The objectives of this event included supporting the development of Senegalese agriculture, exposing local products and recipes, communicating about the importance of local consumption, and advocating for the rights of local farmers.

The event included stands for local organizations to present their products. Tenning Diop and Marieme Fall, both members of the Community Management Committee (CMC) of Medina Gounasse, in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, brought foods like beans, millet, corn couscous, and a flour to make baby food. They also brought natural local juices, and made a dish called thiakry, a typical Senegalese yogurt dish using their nutritious bean couscous.  

Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) had been implemented in Medina Gounasse from 2002-2005, after which the community set up a center for vocational trainings and income generating activities.  These activities included learning how to process and treat local cereals. It was in part this very skill that led Diop and Fall to participate in the “The Meal.”   

At the event, Tenning and Marieme were interviewed by local television stations, and they discussed the importance of eating local food to support the economy, and to make healthier nutritious choices.  They managed to sell some of their products, and also spread the word about their catering business for the upcoming Tabaski holiday, an Islamic religious holiday.

The Meal was created in 1999 in Geneva by the One Meal for the Future Association, coordinated in Africa by the L’association des volontaires pour le development durable (AVD), and organized in Senegal by the communications agency Creatif Studios.