Diamond Spotlight: The San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Culinary Fusion Festival celebrates API culture and healthy eats in Southeastern San Diego.

Our Diamond Spotlight series celebrates the Jacobs Center’s arts, culture, and creative placemaking partners who bring their engaging performances and events to Southeastern San Diego. This week we shine our spotlight on Operation Samahan and the San Diego Asian Pacific Islander (SDAPI) Community Health Network. We hear from Fe Seligman who is responsible for program and fund development for Operation Samahan. She shares about her organization’s SDAPI Culinary Fusion Festival, which brought a healthy appreciation for Asian Pacific Islander (API) culture and food to the Jacobs Center’s Market Creek Amphitheater and Festival Park on September 17. The event, part of STRIVE San Diego!, attracted more than 600 people from across the region. STRIVE San Diego!, is a CDC-funded policy, system, and environmental intervention program of SDAPI that addresses the issues of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension within the API community. The program works with API restaurant, grocery store, and farmers’ market owners to provide healthy dining and food options for their customers or patrons.

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culinary-fusion-4Please tell us a little about your organization?
SDAPI is a project of Operation Samahan, Inc. Established in 2008, the network is composed of API community-based organizations that aim to address the health disparities that exist within the Asian and Pacific Islander community in San Diego County.

Operation Samahan is a federally funded community health clinic established in 1973 and founded by the Filipino community. Operation Samahan provides comprehensive primary care, dental, and behavioral health services to underserved, low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals and families in the county. It has five facilities strategically located in the Northern and Southern regions of San Diego and serves over 17,000 patients a year.

Why did you want your event to take place in Southeastern San Diego?
The majority of our member partners come from City Heights and Southeastern San Diego. In addition, we believe that Southeastern San Diego is a hub of social and collective impact learning opportunities, where new and innovative ideas arise to address the social concerns of the community. We are part of the greater community that serves that purpose.culinary-fusion-2

How did your event engage the community?
The SDAPI Culinary Fusion Festival helped create awareness of the rich and diverse cultures of the Asian and Pacific Islander community and at the same time improve attendees’ appreciation for healthy API culinary arts. Our goal was to showcase the idea that the API community (who mostly reside in Southeastern San Diego) has a lot to share and to be proud of. Food, arts, and culture are just a few examples.

Why is art and culture important in a community?
Arts and culture are important because they define a racial group and/or entity on a personal level and give an individual identity, stability, and empowerment within the community he or she is a part of. The arts are a powerful means of expression that enables a community to document their contributions to the larger group they are part of and to bring healing and understanding to a community surrounded by mistrust, hatred, and fear. The arts are a powerful healing tool for those who have been hurt by racial and gender mistrust and violence. The arts are a powerful mechanism for peace.

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Why should people come experience arts and culture in Southeastern San Diego?
Southeast San Diego is a melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities.

culinary-fusion-3What is one thing you hope attendees took away from your event?
 A deeper understanding of and appreciation for the API’s diverse arts and culture, including healthy culinary arts. The event showcased through no-cost food tasting and sampling the healthy menus that were created through STRIVE San Diego!

What is one thing about your organization people may be surprised to know?
Our partnership and coalition have been built on mutual trust and respect. I think for the very first time, we were able to bring together API community leaders who have deep and sincere love, care, concern, and passion for the community.

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Thank you to the wonderful team at SDAPI, Operation Samahan, STRIVE San Diego!, and all of the other partners who made this event a success. You can learn more about these organizations’ important work and upcoming events at www.operationsamahan.org and www.strivesandiego.org.

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