OKT leads food justice training for Walk for Good Food recipient agencies.

Lottie Training#Walk4GoodFood

For the second year in a row, Access of West Michigan has asked agencies receiving funds raised by the walk to attend a half-day food justice training. This reflects Access’s commitment to not only provide food to the hungry as charitable endeavor bit to also address the root causes of hunger and under-nutrition, globally, nationally and locally. In fact, Access changed the name of the walk this year to reflect that change in direction What was the Annual Hunger Walk is now the Walk for Good Food.

Access explains its rationale for the name change, “we together seek to cultivate a Good Food System. Namely, a system in which healthy (food that provides nourishment and enables people to thrive), fair (food that no one along the production line was exploited during its creation), affordable (food that all people have access to), and green (food that was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable) food are available to all. “

On Wednesday April 11, OKT executive director, Lisa Oliver-King and longtime OKT Detroit colleague, Lottie Spady, led the morning dialogue. A media-maker and herbalist who often lends her talent to OKT’s programs, Spady spent many years working with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC). She utilizes a framework rooted in popular education, social justice, and social entrepreneurship to help develop relevant 21st century skills that community residents can translate into community and economic development.

To get the conversation started, Spady shared a spot-on music video, Food Fight: Bullies Poisoning the Hood Get Splattered.

The dialogue continued by having small groups come up with their own working definitions of food justice, food security and food sovereignty. As Access, OKT and other agencies share the message of how a just food system is the real answer to hunger, under-nutrition, and the many disease caused by nutrient-poor foods, we can hope that communities and countries will wake up and work to ensure that food is viewed as a human right and not just a profitable commodity.



OKT garden coaches attend “Sharing Garden” training

Gardening classThree garden coaches overseeing Our Kitchen Table’s food gardens at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy made time out of their busy schedules to attend a full-day garden training, “The Sharing Garden,” hosted by Urban Roots at Blandford Nature Center.

Lee, Belinda and Octavius joined a room full of participants from many local community gardens, including Dwelling Place Inc., several church-based gardens, and others seeking to grow healthier foods for neighbors with limited access to them.

Topics included how to get community more involved, choosing vegetables that people want to eat, getting the soil ready, garden planning, and planting instruction. OKT’s garden coaches will bring their own experience as food growers to MLK’s students and families as well as the information they learned at the training. Each is deeply dedicated to making the garden work for the MLK community of families and neighbors.

OKT is blessed to have such knowledgeable, dedicated staff on its team. Grow justice!


3 22 postThe 41st Annual Access Walk for Good Food supports The Southeast Area Farmers’ Market as well as these local agencies which strive to bring healthier food to our income-challenged neighbors:

Urban Roots, New City Neighbors, Asian Community Outreach, Baxter Community Center, East Paris Food Pantry, Heartside Gleaning Initiative, Hope Farms, Meals on Wheels Western Michigan, North End Community Ministry, United Methodist Community House, Plainsong Farm, SECOM Resource Center, The Pantry, Community Ministry Program (Trinity UMC), United Church Outreach Ministry, Westminster Food Pantry, HQ GR, St. Marks and Access of West Michigan.

Please take a minute, click on the links, and learn about the work being done here in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. Then, Ssign up to walk or donate today! Look for Team: Our Kitchen Table!

Food justice advance for Michigan blueberry pickers

Migrant Legal Aid Wins Class Action Certification Motion for Blueberry Pickers

March 13, 2018, In the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Judge Robert J. Jonker issued his Order granting Class Certification for a group of up to 330 blueberry pickers. The Opinion states, “The claims for violations of the AWPA will rise or fall on whether Defendants had a uniform policy of failing to compensate the workers for wait time, keeping inaccurate records, and providing false and misleading information to its workers.”

Fire Department now accepting applications for Fire Youth Academy

youthfire_webThe Grand Rapids Fire Department is now accepting applications for this summer’s Fire Youth Academy for high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors. The academy runs 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 18-22 at the Grand Rapids Fire Training Center, 1101 Monroe Ave. NW.

The one-week course includes classroom and hands-on activities that cover:

  • Search and rescue
  • Fire engine and aerial truck operations
  • Special rescue operations
  • Protective equipment
  • Fire prevention
  • Fire investigation
  • Emergency medical services


To participate, students must:

  • Be a high school sophomore, junior or senior
  • Be younger than 18
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Be in good standing at school
  • Understands and/or exhibits the GRFD core values of honesty, integrity, loyalty, teamwork and excellence
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Be in good physical condition and pass a physical


To apply online or for more information, visit grandrapidsmi.gov/Services/Apply-for-the-Fire-Youth-Academy.

Say No Natural Gas in Dearborn, Michigan

By the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit hearing
5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27 at Edsel Ford High School
(Last day that MDEQ is accepting public comment for this permit.)
Can’t attend?
Sign on to the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center comments to the MDEQ.

cropped-mejc_logo_colorMichigan is at a crossroads in the decision to rapidly expand Natural Gas, phasing out coal, and Dearborn Michigan is in the crosshairs.  Approximately two months ago, over 300 people showed up at a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hearing to tell Consumers Energy that a new natural gas plant in South Dearborn would negatively impact the community’s health. The new plant was unwanted and unwelcome. The following week, the company rescinded that proposal.

On Tuesday, March 20, residents gathered again in Dearborn to learn about yet another proposed natural gas plant, this time by DTE Energy. Located at the Ford Research and Engineering Facility, the gas plant would be within a one mile radius of five schools and Beaumont Hospital. At the hearing, public health scholar Dr. Amy Schulz from the University of Michigan School of Public Health explained that South Dearborn and West Dearborn are already overburdened by air pollution, putting vulnerable populations including children, pregnant mothers and their unborn children at risk. Some of the air pollutants that will be coming out of the DTE natural gas facility would exacerbate illnesses like lung disease, increase cardiovascular risks and in some cases contribute to increases in cancer rates and lead to death.


What we also learned at that event from attorney Nicholas Leonard at the Great Lakes Lakes Environmental Law Center, is the permit put forward by DTE to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality leaves much to be desired. Many serious questions are left unanswered including:

Are all of the pollution calculations that DTE Energy used to estimate emissions coming from their smokestack accounted for?

Is the company using the best technology to mitigate the pollution coming out of the smokestacks? From Leonard’s estimations, the company did not include spikes in pollution emissions caused during start up and shut down of the facility which may happen 136 times annually.

Further, his research resulted in finding that the exact same type of facilities in California and Massachusetts have used technology that has reduced pollution by significantly greater amounts. DTE  has failed to include this improved technology as options here in Michigan. It should be investigating and incorporating them for the best protections of a community already overburdened by pollution. The company is also not including continuous monitoring of pollution, making residents and advocates using guess work as towhat happens in between periodic emissions testing.

But the larger question remains, when will Michigan residents have a fair chance to give input into what kind of energy Michigan actually deserves– cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy. MDEQ gives us just 40 days – basically the time one has to pay a phone or a cable bill- to respond to a permit for a facility that may be running for 30 years or more. We need the time to iterate that Michigan needs solar panels and wind farms, not more dirty energy that results in volatile costs for consumers, climate causing methane emissions, or an increased mortality – not only of the people that live around it and the workers of the plants – but by the natural systems that depend on the environment from the extraction point to the smokestack. Because even the best technology of today will be old and outdated tomorrow, and we’re literally sick of and from dirty energy.

The public should question the rush to natural gas. Michiganders deserve a say about what kinds of energy our Great Lakes State is producing because, frankly, we don’t have a choice whether to breathe or not. MDEQ has a decision to make that will impact the health of our children, families, and communities, the workers and the economy.