Michigan Good Food Summit – Well Done!

Two weeks ago, 350 individuals gathered at the Michigan Good Food Summit in Lansing to discuss all issues around the Michigan Good Food Charter, which is a vision and plan to create an equitable food system in our state.

The vision pairs up nicely with the work of Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, which is 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.

Not surprisingly, people from all walks of the food world were present at the summit – farmers, food bankers, school and hospital food service professionals, food processors, and others who care about creating a robust and fair food system in Michigan.

Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative was well represented with a number of members present, including Detroit Public Schools, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Eastern Market, Fair Food Network, Ecology Center, Keep Growing Detroit, Detroit Food Justice Task Force, Greening of Detroit, Detroit Food Policy Council, MSU Extension, among others.

The summit provided a forum to bring food systems people together to talk about a common agenda from a variety of angles. Themes around measuring success, collaborating, dignity and fairness for farm workers and restaurant workers, sustainable farming practices, public health, food justice, and food security were all on the table.

Without regurgitating a run down of the agenda, keynotes, and breakout sessions – many of which were compelling, thought-provoking and enlightening – we thought it better to share some standout quotes from some of the presenters and participants.

Stop working in silos or thinking that your work is the most important work. Start collaborating to increase our drive around increasing access to good food for children and families.Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the Office of Nutrition, Detroit Public Schools

Christine Quane from Eastern Market, moderates a keynote with Betti Wiggins (center) and Barbara Norman (right)

Farm workers are an invisible population. Forty thousand are under age 20. By in large, they are family groups. One-quarter are living below poverty level.Tom Thornburg, Farmworker Legal Services, Kalamazoo

The legacy of Cesar Chavez articulates the need for action. We can’t continue to watch occupational segregation in metro Detroit. A race tax is being paid at 33 percent. There has to be action.Alicia Farris, Restaurant Opportunities Center-Michigan, Detroit

Geese demonstrate alignment and collaboration. They fly in formation. They fly at the same speed as their neighbor, they maintain a minimum distance, and they always turn toward the center.Rich Pirog, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, Lansing

The thing with tribal nations, there are inherent rights, but if you’re completely reliant on someone else to feed you, how sovereign can you be? I do believe when it comes to food, it comes to power. If you take away access to food, you take away power.Barbara Smutek, MSU Extension, Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program, Sault Ste. Marie

It is not enough to progress as individuals when our friends and neighbors are left behind.Tom Thornburg, Farmworker Legal Services, Kalamazoo

They are doing great things with the young people of Detroit to get them involved in the food system, farming, being chefs. Or just getting the kids to eat better. That makes me very excited and gives me hope for the future.Sharon Ostrowski, Sharkar Farms, St. Clair County

We must keep in mind at all steps along the way what good food is: healthy, green, fair and affordable.Michelle Napier-Dunnings, Michigan Food & Farming Systems, East Lansing

FoodLab Detroit

Thanks to MSU Center for Regional Food Systems for bringing so many compassionate people together for a lively and thoughtful day.

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