Jessica Janson, East Coast Coordinator of Food for Thought

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing (though loosening) Stay at Home order, I produced and recorded this show remotely from home, the eighth program prepared this way at the Talking Animals corporate headquarters in Jupiter Farms, Florida, and likely the way our broadcasts will come together thru mid-June. Tentatively, we’re due back in studio on June 24.

Jessica Janson —East Coast Coordinator of Animal Place’s Food for Thought program, which seeks to help animal welfare, social justice, and environmental organizations adopt animal- and earth-friendly menu policies for their events—outlines some information about Animal Place, a farmed animal sanctuary in Northern California, one of the country’s oldest and largest. She touches on the impact of COVID-19 on Animal Place, and how the sanctuary has adapted to those restrictions and changes. Before we ease into the crux of the conversation—about Food for Thought, how it works, what it can provide in terms of guidance, and even financial assistance—I recount two germane experiences of mine: About 13-14 years ago, having been asked to emcee a lunch event for a greyhound rescue group, I was startled to see that the meal was Swiss steak; and a decade plus-ago, when I launched the Talking Animals Festival—a sprawling event with 60 vendors, rescues and other nonprofits, a dozen bands, speakers, other elements—I delegated as many things as I could, including lining up food vendors…and was shocked, on the day of the festival, to find that one of the vendors was serving gator tail. Totally my responsibility, I assumed given the nature of the radio show that nothing like that would be served at the Festival, and the person I put in charge would understand that. Basically, poor leadership on my part. Janson explains that more and more organizations have started realizing they want to shift away from the kind of menu (and significant disconnect) offered in the first example, while noting that the one-time mistake in the second example is not an uncommon scenario—but leaders of organizations there, too, are looking to embrace plant-based menus at their receptions, fundraisers, adoption events, awards banquets and so on, in order to closely align their menus with their missions. Janson covers the ways they can help these organizations make that transition, from suggesting companies that might donate food to that event, to Food for Thought itself offering grants. (https://www.foodforthoughtcampaign.org, https://www.facebook.com/foodforthoughtcampaign,   https://www.instagram.com/foodforthoughtcampaign/)

ALSO: I aired an interview with Dara Eckart, the CEO of Friends of Strays, one of the most venerable shelters in the Tampa Bay Area (it was founded in 1978), with a mission dedicated to the care and adoption of homeless pets. We discuss what impact COVID-19 has had on Friends of Strays, including—as has been generally experienced at shelters nationwide—a tremendous number of adoptions, all but clearing out all the adoptable animals, a phenomenon she hopes continues now that we’re in kitten season. Noting that Friends of Strays wasn’t exactly operating at the height of its powers when she arrived 3 ½ years ago, Eckart describes some of the innovations and improvements (including new programs) implemented under her leadership. (https://www.friendsofstrays.org, https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofStraysAnimalShelter, https://www.instagram.com/friendsofstrays/)

COMEDY CORNER:  John Mulaney’s “Baby Grandma” (http://www.johnmulaney.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,”  instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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