Imagining Freedom – ONLINE! 2020

Featuring Chef Art Smith

Join STAC and Chef Art Smith for Imagining Freedom – Online!, a celebration of trafficking-free foods and an opportunity to learn about making responsible consumer choices!

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

Logon at 11:15 a.m. for the preprogram featuring informative videos on human trafficking and STAC, as well as recognition of our amazing sponsors. Program begins at noon with a cooking demonstration by Chef Art.

NOTE: Directions on how to join will be posted here and on the STAC Facebook page before the event and emailed to you. This is a free event, but please REGISTER.

Imagining Freedom is STAC’s premier fundraiser. Your sponsorship helps provide assistance to human trafficking survivors of all ages and supports education programs throughout the Big Bend to prevent sex and labor trafficking.

This fun and informative program begins at noon (and ends at 1 p.m.) on Thursday, Sept. 10, and includes a cooking demonstration by Chef Art Smith, a Jasper, Florida, native. He is a familiar face on the national food scene with restaurants in several major cities and his Homecomin’ restaurant in Disney Springs in Orlando.

Television viewers know Chef Art from the “Today” show, “BBQ Pitmasters” and “Top Chef Masters.” A sixth-generation Floridian, he was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years and cooked for two Florida governors in Tallahassee.

Since the pandemic, Chef Art has been hosting a series of cooking videos and has lost 70 pounds. He is the author of several books including, “Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort: How America’s Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health!” (2013).

In addition to Chef Art, Imagining Freedom – Online! will include a celebration of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which recently adopted a statement against trafficking and is informing all of its farmers and producers about the issue.

The statement reads: “Red Hills Small Farm Alliance is committed to helping to eradicate human trafficking as defined in State of Florida and federal laws. We do not condone human trafficking and will not engage in this practice or knowingly work with suppliers who engage in these practices. Our producers are committed to practices that ensure that no human trafficking exists in their business operations. We will provide our producers and members with information on human trafficking to help carry out the terms of this statement of principles.”

“This is the first time that a farming organization in our region has adopted a statement like this to underscore their collective commitment to preventing trafficking,” said Robin Hassler Thompson, STAC executive director. “Red Hills members will participate in Imagining Freedom to receive our thanks. They serve as a shining example for other businesses and organizations.”

Florida ranks third in the nation for cases of human trafficking, often called modern-day slavery. Since 2018, STAC has assisted over 40 people who were trafficked or at serious risk, along with dozens more who were identified as extremely vulnerable. While sex trafficking is often in the news, labor trafficking can be less visible, although it exists in plain sight in restaurants, on farms and in neighborhood homes.

Proceeds from Imagining Freedom will support STAC services and programs including direct assistance to sex and labor trafficking survivors of all ages and training for professionals and community members. Over the last three years, STAC educated more than 3,000 people, including all Leon County Sheriff’s Office road patrol, investigators and school resource officers, as well as personnel from eight county health departments and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

A member of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, STAC maintains a directory of services for survivors on its website and partners with agencies, including the International Rescue Committee and the Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and many area agencies to connect survivors to a wide network of resources. These including case management, housing, counseling, health care, and employment, education and legal assistance.

STAC offers free training from 1 to 3 p.m. on the third Friday of every month for anyone who would like to learn about trafficking and how to help. Sessions include facts and trends, as well as a specialized topic that changes each month.

“None of what STAC does would be possible without community support,” Hassler Thompson said. “We have to keep the momentum going. Human trafficking, and labor trafficking in particular, are vastly underreported. More survivors need us. Watch Imagining Freedom and learn what you can do.”

If you have any questions, please contact Robin Hassler Thompson, STAC executive director, at or 850-597-2080. THANK YOU for supporting human trafficking survivors and those who are vulnerable in the Big Bend.

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