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.

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Last month, Detroit City Council unanimously repealed three city ordinances that Detroit Greenways Coalition, with support from Detroit Food & Fitness Coalition, had sought to remove.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

Celebrating School Gardens

Last month, Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition hosted a gathering to commemorate the fifth year of the Detroit School Garden Collaborative. The collaborative was started in conjunction with Keep Growing Detroit to plant and nurture gardens on school grounds to serve two purposes: to provide fresh produce for school lunchrooms and to teach children and parents about healthy foods and gardening.Table copy

Today there are 78 school gardens, so there was much to celebrate at the September 17 event at Drew Farms, a four-acre school farm with six hoop houses located at the Drew Transition Center. DPS Executive Director Betti Wiggins collaborated with Dr. Glenda Price from Detroit Public Schools Foundation to organize the celebration and “friend raiser.”

The Office of School Nutrition is actively involved in the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative Schools Work Group, which supports Detroit schools’ efforts to provide healthy, freshly prepared, and locally grown or produced foods in schools. Wiggins is co-chair of the Schools Work Group.

Betti WAt the event, key players in the agriculture and schools communities were invited, and 35 attendees enjoyed a meal prepared by Kevin Frank, the school district chef, made from garden ingredients.

Guests sat outside on the shady side of the farm in a rustic yet sophisticated setting and ate from fine china. Butternut squash soup and a salad of kale, peppers and tomatoes were part of the menu. Short presentations from Wiggins and Zaundra Wimberley, farm and gardens director, were part of the evening that celebrated the Detroit School Garden Collaborative and other work being done by the Office of School Nutrition to put healthy, locally grown vegetables and fruits on the table for DPS students.Fish copy

DPS has followed up with attendees to see how they may be able to assist the garden collaborative next spring through volunteering, donating materials and supplies, or contributing funding for the gardens.


Trails-Cocktails Event Urges Cyclists to Think Big about Detroit Greenways

Seven years ago our only major biking and trails proponent was packing up his desk at the Detroit Mayor’s office and heading back to a job in the private sector. Our city support was looking bleak.

What a change we’ve seen since then!

We now have supporters throughout most city departments and in the Mayor’s office. Though Detroit has many challenges and priorities, our work is seen as an important quality of life issue from the neighborhoods to downtown.

This summer we’ve gained another supporter with the new Planning and Development Director Maurice Cox. We heard this support firsthand at a recent event on the Detroit RiverWalk.

With help from the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative and Bedrock Management, Detroit Greenways Coalition held its inaugural Bike Trails and Cocktails event on September 17. It began with a guided eight-mile bike tour of nearby greenway projects with assistance from Detroit’s Eastside Riders bike club. This tour included recently completed portions of the Detroit RiverWalk, the Dequindre Cut Extension, the planned Beltline Greenway and Elmwood Connector.

At the ride’s conclusion, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy provided more updates on its work and answered questions.

Next up was Cox who made a statement by riding to the event. This was not atypical for him though. He bikes to work, to Eastern Market, and all around town. Biking has been his primary means of transportation long before he got to the Motor City and he sees no need to change.

Living in Lafayette Park, he uses the nearby Dequindre Cut often. He told the attendees that every Detroit neighborhood deserves a great greenway like this — something that’s very much in line with the Detroit Greenways Coalition vision and Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative goals.

One major project that will bring a greenway to many Detroit neighborhoods (as well as Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn) is the 26-mile Inner Circle Greenway. Cox spoke highly of the project and the opportunity to look beyond just the trail. He added that the greenway can be catalyst for development similar to the Atlanta Beltline.

He also stressed the value in having the Coalition in Detroit to help show community support. He told the crowd that he would join the Coalition before the event was over. He also noted that he was heading to Copenhagen the next day as part of a study tour that looks at progressive European transportation and public space designs that are people-focused.Trails-Cocktails Route Map

Beyond greenways, another Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative goal is to pass a Complete Streets ordinance in Detroit. Cox’s voice will certainly help as the ordinance is introduced to the city council this fall.

Todd Scott is co-chair of the Detroit Food & Fitness Active Living Committee and executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition.

Harvest Time in the D

“From the two years I’ve been here, I’ve met [people] as far as India, as close as home” – Sean Bernardo

Sean Bernardo at Meldrum Fresh Market

Part of the mission of the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative is to develop ways to ensure that everyone in Detroit has access to affordable, locally grown food. Detroit Community Markets are neighborhood locations where residents and visitors can do just that.

Most of the sites are farmers’ markets, but the program also includes mobile produce trucks, farm stands, a year-round produce store, and food box programs.

Here is a listing of the farmers’ markets and hours:


Detroit Eastern Market Tuesdays, 9 a.m. -3:00 p.m., Russell Street

Sowing Seeds Growing Futures, 3:00-7:00 p.m., 18900 Joy Road


Islandview Farmers Market, 4:00 –7:00 p.m., 7200 Mack Avenue

Wayne State University Farmers Market, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., 5401 Cass Ave.


Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market, 4:00-8:00 p.m., 18445 Scarsdale St.

CHASS Mercado, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., 5635 West Fort St.

Meldrum Fresh Market, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., 1264 Meldrum

Corktown Farmers’ Market, 4:00-7:00 p.m., 1236 Michigan Ave.


Oakland Avenue Farmers Market, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 9352 Oakland Ave.

D-Town Farm Stand, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 14207 West Outer Dr.


D-Town Farm Stand, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 14207 West Outer Dr.

Schools Work Group Remobilizes with an Ambitious Agenda

The Detroit Food & Fitness Schools Work Group gathered earlier this month at the Detroit Public Schools’ Office of School Nutrition after an almost yearlong hiatus.

The group outlined two main goals to work on this year: 1) to develop priorities and an advocacy work plan around Federal child nutrition policy and 2) to identify ways spearhead, track and support Good Food in early childhood settings and promote healthy first foods for infants.

As part of our child nutrition advocacy work, we will identify parent and youth engagement opportunities with DFFC partners and workgroups.  Utilizing our homegrown grass roots advocacy model, we will conduct policy trainings for community members and develop a plan for community input to the child nutrition policy process.  A number of local and national groups are a resource to the Work Group for advocacy materials and legislative updates including:

  • Michigan’s No Kid Hungry Campaign led by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan
  • FRAC (Food Research and Action Council), a national anti-hunger organization that lobbies on behalf federal programs that impact food and nutrition,
  • Urban School Food Alliance, a group of the nation’s largest school districts created to offer public school students healthy and delicious meals while keeping food costs low, and
  • National Farm to School Network, which provides a voice for the farm to school movement and information and resources about national, state and local policies that impact farm to school.

The Schools Work Group will also gather feedback through a convening in August with local food groups. The priorities letter will be completed, presented and disseminated. A policy boot camp will also be held for the general public, targeting those most affected by the current federal child nutrition provisions.

The process will cover much of the same framework as the DFFC’s engagement work on federal agriculture policy in 2013-14.

The Work Group’s other major work will focus on replicating good food practices implemented at DPS to the pre-Kindergarten setting.  We will identify outreach opportunities with early childhood providers and identify leverage opportunities in federal child nutrition policies and new Head Start performance standards.  A convening of early childhood providers is planned for early fall.

Anyone interested in more information or joining the schools Work Group should contact DeWayne Wells, DFFC director.

Present at the July 1 meeting were Ashley Atkinson, Keep Growing Detroit; Skyla Butts, DPS; Linda Campbell, community organizer; Melinda Clynes, DFFC; Ebony Roberts, JFM Consulting; DeWayne Wells, DFFC; and Betti Wiggins, DPS.