As a member of the Food Systems Work Group of the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative (DFFC), I’m excited to be working toward improving access to and increasing consumption of fresh, healthy and affordable food in Detroit.
Our work group is making great strides in this area. Here’s a quick taste of some of our accomplishments…
Encouraging people to use their food assistance dollars at local farmers’ markets
This past August we launched the Double Up Food Bucks program. Spearheaded by Fair Food Network, Double Up Food Bucks allows Bridge Card users to use their benefits at farmers’ markets to purchase Michigan-grown produce – and double their food dollars by doing so. Hence, a $20 purchase provides an additional $20 worth of tokens to spend at the market. We’re working to create healthier buying habits and, by doing so, support healthier eating. Michigan farmers also increase their incomes by serving a largely untapped market.
Teaching children about preparing meals and engaging the community
FEAST also started this summer, engaging young people in planning and preparing community meals. The Greening of Detroit took the lead on this project, engaging Detroit youth, with some assistance from adults, to plan, shop, prepare, and serve a monthly community dinner. The youth-prepared meal is served family style, and brings the community together in a way that stimulates conversation and allows residents to interact while enjoying food that was grown in their community.
Bringing fresh produce to Detroit Neighborhoods
Many DFFC agencies are involved, through various means, in getting food to communities that have limited access to fresh produce. Eastern Market is bringing mobile farm stands into different neighborhoods where fresh produce is hard to find. Gleaners Community Food Bank is getting more food – and more nutritious food – to underserved communities.
DFFC also supports the MI Neighborhood Food Movers project, a collaborative effort between the State of Michigan, local Detroit partners and individuals seeking to become entrepreneurs in the fresh food movement. The Food Movers sell fresh produce in neighborhoods, much like an ice cream truck, reaching residents in neighborhoods with few, if any, retail outlets where fresh produce is sold.
While much more is happening with the DFFC Food Systems Work Group, these are just a few quick examples of projects in which we’re engaged. DFFC is bringing many groups to the table – from the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion to Forgotten Harvest to Project Grow and many others – with each group bringing a unique set of assets, but a shared passion and commitment to making fresh food more accessible to Detroiters.