Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative is a group of 40 organizations developing ways to ensure that everyone in Detroit – especially the most vulnerable children – has access to affordable, healthy locally grown food and opportunities to be physically active.

Summer Fun & Fitness: Active Living Mini-Grants Announced

The Active Living Detroit Mini-Grant Program provides small grants ($500 to $1,000) to organizations that promote activity friendly environments throughout Detroit. It strives to support a range of projects that are geographically distributed throughout the city – all of which promote physical activity and environments that support active living.

TF2 Pic 3 copyThe program is jointly sponsored by Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative and Healthy Environments Partnership.

This year, a total of $13,000 in grants were awarded to the following 16 projects:


I Feel Movement will offer a meditation and gardening summer program for grandparents and their grandchildren. (JODA Jewels Consulting)

Opening Day for Neighborhood Way of the Grandmont Rosedale Greenway will promote destination points along the Grandmont Rosedale Greenway. (Grandmont Rosedale Development)


Kids in the Park: Explore, Experience, Achieve will encourage wellness through bicycling, community engagement, gardening, and healthy eating. (Eight Mile Community Organization)Learning healthy eating- Leland 2015


Nolan Fierce Gardeners will engage middle school students in gardening and promote entrepreneurship by selling student-grown produce at Eastern Market. (BE Culturally Exposed)

Food, Fitness and Photography will engage youth in gardening, healthy food education, and exercise; a photography mural will be created at the end of the program. (Youth Community Agency)


BikeVON Bicycle Rodeo will offer an interactive beginner cycling program for adults and children ages five and up. (BikeVON)

Chandler Park Ninja Warrior will engage youth in obstacle course training as a form of fun exercise. (Chandler Park Healthy Neighborhood Strategy)

HEALTHY-PIC Sports Lending Library will offer basic equipment (for tennis, basketball, football, baseball, and soccer) to Villages at Parkside youth to take advantage of new and existing amenities in Chandler Park. HEALTHY-PIC stands for Helping to Encourage Activities by Lending Things to Healthy Youth Play In Chandler Park. (Friends of Parkside)

Free Riders Community Park will offer a gardening program that allows senior citizens an accessible location to grow healthy food and exercise. (Free Riders Community & Youth Outreach)


Michigan Women’s Wellness Workshop will encourage healthier lifestyles through exercise and meditation. (Fit in 8 Program)


Vacant Lot Habitat will transform a vacant lot into a natural wildlife habitat for birds, bats, and butterflies and include the construction and installation of a birdhouse. (Urban Neighborhood Initiatives)

Tiny Tigers Karate Summer Program will offer a summer karate program for children ages four to six years. (Physical Fitness with Robert)

MCSDA Break Life will engage youth in physical activity through break dancing. (Motor City Street Dance Academy-MCSDA)


Walk [Wayne State] Expansion will install signage around the Wayne State University campus to encourage walking and biking as forms of healthy transportation. (WSU Office of Economic Development)

Kids Talk CAC Annual Community Picnic will promote nutrition among youth and wrap up with a community celebration. (Kids TALK Children’s Advocacy Center)

Detroit Horseback Riding Camp will engage youth in learning about riding and caring for horses. (Detroit Horse Power)

The grantees have until December 1 to implement their projects. DFFC will be showcasing some of these programs and projects throughout the summer and fall.


Newest DFFC Work Group Focuses on Health Care Sector

Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative is pleased to announce the official formation of the DFFC’s newest work group, the Health Care Work Group. The group’s goal is to promote a healthier Detroit through working at the intersection of healthy food and health care – bringing good food to the frontline of health care.IMG_7111-320x213

Work group members come from a variety of sectors within health care and include representatives from…

American Indian Health & Family Services

Authority Health

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Detroit Food Policy Council

City of Detroit Health Department

Ecology Center

Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan

Health Alliance Plan

Henry Ford Health System

JFM Consulting, Inc.

MSU Extension

The Health Care Work Group will work to improve the health and well-being of Detroiters and foster innovative relationships to build a healthy, sustainable food system. The work group meets quarterly and will support new ways to conjoin good food and health care.

IMG_6390-293x440Members of our group have met for 18 months prior to officially becoming a DFFC work group last winter. During that time, it has supported the expansion and evaluation of projects like Fresh Prescription, a fruit and vegetable prescription program that engages health care, food access and nutrition education partners in growing a healthier community. The 2016 Fresh Prescription program will begin in June.

Plenty of Detroit Victories to Celebrate During National Bike Month

The city of Detroit has faced many major financial challenges after year after year of downsizing prior to its bankruptcy. Detroit simply could not provide the same level of service that other cities could. Parks were underfunded and many not maintained. Biking was often seen as a dispensable recreational activity, especially when faced with issues of crime, street lighting, blight, a declining population, and more.

But many in the community and philanthropy thought differently – and brought the city along.

CJ Millender_IMG_9607_1024 copyBicycling and trails were a means for economic development, inexpensive transportation, quality of life, and improved health. Through many years of working collaboratively with the city, much has been achieved. Trails such as the Conner Creek Greenway, Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk, and Southwest Detroit Greenlink were constructed. Not only did Detroiters embrace these biking options, they demanded more.

These trails along with Detroit’s flat terrain, moderate weather, lightly-travelled and overly-wide streets fostered a bicycle culture not seen in anywhere else in America: neighborhood social bike clubs that are largely African-American and embrace DIY customized bikes with music and lighting. Most of these clubs shun the stereotypical cyclist Lycra for regular clothes with club patches and more, not unlike WeAreDetroit-bikemotorcycle club colors. Each of the over thirty-some clubs have their own priorities. Some require club members to do community work often focused on getting more kids get on bicycles. Others are more about the fun and social aspects while lifting up better health.

These clubs embrace riding together, welcome diversity, and have a very low barrier to entry.

Interestingly enough, this Detroit club culture more closely mirrors that of the Golden Era of Bicycling (1890s) rather than the typical U.S. or Metro Detroit suburban club culture.

Slow Roll is another phenomenon that has helped define Detroit bicycle culture. This modest bike ride has grown from a handful of people to become one of the largest weekly bike rides in the world – and certainly one of the most diverse.

Where do we go next?

Bankruptcy has allowed Detroit to offer greater services. Detroit parks have certainly benefitted from this as has the planning department.

New Planning Director Maurice Cox is rebuilding the department, hiring staff, and taking a much more active role within the city. This goes for biking too. Cox rides his bike to work every day and is a strong supporter for better and safer cycling options for all Detroiters.

The Planning Department, Public Works, consultants from other U.S. cities, the Detroit Greenways Coalition along with the clubs, Slow Roll, and others have collectively convinced the Mayor that building a healthier, more bike-able (and walkable!) city is a competitive advantage for Detroit. It can bring in greater economic development and more residents, with the latter being the Mayor’s self-prescribed metric for evaluating his job performance.

Courtesy of Detroit Greenways Coalition

Photo courtesy of Detroit Greenways Coalition

Just last month the Mayor kicked off a two-day workshop on reimagining all of East Jefferson and Grand River Avenues. He said we need to take advantage of our wide, lightly-traveled streets; make them more walkable, bike-able while improving transit. “We can’t out-suburb the suburbs,” he added but we create a great urban environment. He said Detroit could even experiment a bit as NYC did with converting street space to public plazas.

Just weeks later, the extension to the Dequindre Cut was officially opened. Again, the Mayor touted walking, biking and trails, and how they can reconnect this city. He also touted the recently submitted US DOT TIGER grant request ($18.8 million) to build over 30 miles of rail-trails and protected bike lanes as part of the Inner Circle Greenway. This grant included an emphasis on making walking and biking connections across freeways, many of which were intentionally routed through and divided communities of color.

Detroit bike culture is growing exponentially along with the demand for more. Understandably in the beginning our expectations were tempered with the city’s many challenges. Those expectations have been shattered.Deq Cut bike taxi

In a meeting of Detroit bicycle stakeholders held earlier this year, Cox proclaimed of his tenure, “It is a stated fact that Detroit will be America’s most bike friendly city.” There wasn’t much reaction, which was likely due to incredulity rather than indifference. Is the city seriously on board with this?

Yes, it’s serious.

Food For Change Summit a Success

On March 10 and 11, the Detroit Food Policy Council and the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative were pleased to present Detroit Food 2016: Food for Change at the Benson & Edith Ford Conference Center in Detroit.


Keynote speaker Kimberly Seals Allers

With much energy and charge for an improved food system, the conference welcomed 308 attendees — 16 of whom were students — and a host of great speakers and presenters. These included Detroit Black Community Food Security Network founding director, Malik Yakini, and award-winning journalist, author, and nationally recognized media commentator and advocate for breastfeeding and infant health, Kimberly Seals Allers. There were many take-aways to the conference, and we all left with the determination to continue making strides in creating an equitable food system here in Detroit. This video captures the essence.


Malik Yakini, Executive Director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

This year we will keep the conversations going by hosting opportunities to learn more about the Detroit food system throughout the year. Our “What About Food?” series will feature film screenings and community dialogues about many of the topics we explored at Detroit Food 2016.

Join us for the first dialogue, Land, Food, and Environmental Justice, on Monday, May 9, 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201. Visit our website for more information about this discussion, future events, or the workshops presented at the summit.

Mini-grants for Grassroots Efforts to get Residents Active

Applications are now being accepted for Active Living Mini-grants that promote active living and physical health in Detroit neighborhoods.

Active Living Mini-grants, funded in part by Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, of up to $1,000 will be awarded to Detroit-based community groups with sustainable active-living projects. Priority will be given to projects that:

  • Engage community residents, particularly youth;
  • Support complete streets concepts or implementation;
  • Utilize a Detroit Greenway; and/or
  • Promote community-based change in the built environment to encourage physical activity.

Any neighborhood group or organization located in the City of Detroit may apply. This includes, but is not limited to, block clubs, art groups, service organizations, churches, parks and recreational organizations, professional associations, public and non-public school-based groups, and individuals. Mini-grants will be awarded to Detroiters working to achieve these goals through creative community-based projects. The application deadline is April 22; projects are to be implemented between June and December 1, 2016.

Click here for details and the applicationPlease also visit webpages of these affiliated partners: 

For questions, contact Cindy Gamboa, Community Outreach Coordinator, Healthy Environments Partnership, (313) 593-0924,