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.

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.

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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.

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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, cegamboa@umich.edu.

What’s Happening with CNR?

Many of us associated with the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative have our ears to the ground about the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, as we were heavily involved in advocating for a number of components last year – many of which made it into the new bill. So, here’s a quick update on what’s happened with the bill and where it stands today.

  • On January 20, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry approved bi-partisan legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs. The legislation, “Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016,” reforms and reauthorizes child nutrition programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966.
  • The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
  • Once that happens, we will encourage the House to take up the Senate bill, but it is unknown whether they will. If action is not taken within the next month or so, the bill may not move through Congress until after the elections.

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow says the bill puts the health of America’s children first. “We are making sure our children get nutritious meals based on smart, science-based policies to give every child a fair shot at success. The investments made in this bill will give important new resources to fight hunger, from WIC to the summer meals program. I urge members of the Senate to support this commonsense bill.”

Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative will continue to keep its members up to date.

Time for a Tune Up: Detroit Food Security Policy is being Revamped

It’s been a busy six months at the Detroit Food Policy Council.

We have been working to update the city’s food security policy, which was originally adopted in 2008, following two years of hard work driven by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and others who care about food justice and food access issues in the city of Detroit.20151021-%20LJS-%20DFPC-ListeningSession-Group-27

It’s important to note that this original work triggered the creation of the Detroit Food Policy Council. With eight years of food work now under our belt, the council decided it was time to re-visit the original policy and garner new community input and perspective.

To give you a framework, the food policy that’s currently in place addresses eight issue areas, has three to nine listed action items under each, and is nine pages in length. It covers food access, food literacy, hunger, economic injustice, urban agriculture and more. The policy is forward thinking and grounded in the true belief that Detroit, while facing many barriers, can have an equitable, sustainable food system.

Since the Detroit Food Policy Council is a member of the Detroit Food & Fitness

Listening session participant takes part in a dot survey.

Listening session participant takes part in a dot survey.

Collaborative, it’s not surprising that the policy is aligned with the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative’s mission to make sure all Detroiters, including the most vulnerable children, have access to affordable, healthy locally grown food.

In short, both of our groups were fortunate to have such a great original policy to turn to before the council even began our research and revamping.

Here’s how the revision project has unfolded. After receiving a grant last year to assess and update the policy, we assembled a team of folks to help, including three external consultants from different backgrounds and our own Kibibi Blount-Dorn, the program manager here at Detroit Food Policy Council. The team conducted focus groups and listening sessions, and distributed both online and hard-copy surveys.

Through hard work and attention to detail, our policy update team made sure that all seven districts in Detroit had a voice. We collected 341 surveys and had great turnout at our listening sessions. We sent postcards and distributed flyers to reach people, and we worked with community groups all over the city to help us connect with many different community members. We heard from emergency food providers, working families, urban gardeners, seniors, and folks from many different walks of life.

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Malik Yakini presents at a listening session.

All in all, we gathered input from around 500 Detroiters. Some of the highlights of this process were our final city-wide listening session on October 31 and our 20-person focus group on September 29, which gathered viewpoints from people who work within the food system.

Right now, we are in the process of further synthesizing all of the data we collected, but we’ve had two important observations early on:

We need to better promote the food work being done in the city so that everyone knows where resources are and how to access them. We were surprised to find out that many people were unaware of the City of Detroit’s policy on food security. We also learned that some of the activities folks expressed an interest in, such as fisheries and aquaponics, are already exist locally.

We need to educate more than ever. People definitely asked for more education around health and wellness.

20151021-%20LJS-%20DFPC-ListeningSession-Registration-1Internally, we know that we want to carefully track the items in the new policy and create a process for updating it. The policy will help guide our work, and in the short- and long-term improve the food system for families and individuals. Good, locally sourced food contributes to individuals living a healthy life – but it also contributes at a more global level by creating better public health outcomes and thus a stronger city.

I will keep you posted on the policy revisions, and our work with the Detroit City Council, and look forward to sharing more in the upcoming months.

Detroit Repeals Archaic Bike Ordinances

Last month, Detroit City Council unanimously repealed three city ordinances that Detroit Greenways Coalition, with support from Detroit Food & Fitness Coalition, had sought to remove.

The ordinances restricted youth bicycling within the city, prohibiting bicyclists under age 12 from riding in the street even if they were with a parent or guardian. Bicyclists between ages 12 and 17 needed to carry a permission note with them. The penalty for violating either ordinance was that the Detroit Police Department could ask parents to withhold bicycling privileges for up to six months.

Obviously, this goes against one of the DFFC’s main goals: to make sure everyone in Detroit, especially the most vulnerable children, has opportunities to be physically active. Repealing the ordinances helps us to promote cycling among young people – not penalize them for riding.

Representatives from Detroit Greenways Coalition testified at the October 27th public hearing that these ordinances were archaic, unique to Detroit, not best practices, and rarely enforced, which made youth safety education more challenging.

Also at the public hearing was Heather Nugen, executive director for Back Alley Bikes. Nugen brought her wealth of experience in youth cycling to the table. Council member Scott Benson recognized Back Alley Bikes for all the great work it does in the city.

12189644_854478188000972_4100010984858195940_n-300x300Next up were two third-graders who road their bikes to school and know how to safely ride in the road. They clearly had the most impact. Thanks to BikeVON for bringing these kids to the hearing.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, Detroit City Council member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and Benson posed with the children. Member Castaneda-Lopez wrote on Facebook:

“I love when youth come to speak at City Council – it can be intimidating even for adults. Today these two 9 and 10 yr olds, respectively, came to support repealing archaic restrictions around youth riding bicycles. They ride their bikes to school. I hope that someday soon everyone in the city feels safe & comfortable riding bikes and using this as a viable means of transportation.”

We share that hope too!

Also, thanks go out to People for Bikes in helping spread the word on this with an action alert.