Join the OKT Walk Team today!

Join the OKT Walk team here!
All money that our team raises will go to help fund the
Southeast Area Farmers Market.

Over the past 43 years, the Access of West MichiganWalk for Good has raised more than $6 million for dozens of local and international nonprofits addressing hunger and food insecurity. This year, the Walk is funding eight local organizations that are working hard to improve access to healthy foods and diminish other impacts of poverty: the Kent County Food Policy CouncilNorth End Wellness CoalitionOur Kitchen TableRevive and Thrive ProjectSECOM Resource CenterSt. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and UCOM.The work of these organizations ranges from community gardens, neighborhood-based food markets, and meal delivery programs to emergency food pantries and community development initiatives. Each walker raises donations for the Walk from their friends, family, co-workers, and congregations.

All are invited to join the walk anytime between May 2 to May 12, either individually, creating a team, or joining an existing team. (Walkers observing Ramadan can extend the end date to May 19.) Those who would rather not walk can make a donation. Donations can be made to a specific walk recipient organization, as well. It’s easy to do on the Walk for Good Food website.

Those who would rather send a check can send one to Access of West Michigan, 1700 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508.

We want YOU to join the OKT walk Team!

#Walk4GoodFood 2021

Virtual Walk takes place May 2 through 12. Pick your day and time!

In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, you can Walk for Good Food in your own neighborhood. Access of West Michigan is asking walkers to walk individually or with their household while maintaining a six feet distance from anyone else. (Do follow any new social distancing guidelines and other directives made by public health officials and government leaders.) How can you get involved?

For more information or to sign up to get involved, visit the Walk for Good Food Website. If you have any questions, contact Alaina at 616-747-0988 or alaina@accessofwestmichigan.org.

City partners with local employers to launch summer youth jobs program

The City of Grand Rapids today announced the launch of the 2021 Grow1000 youth employment program. Building on the success of employing more than 350 youth last summer, the City and area businesses – are poised to employ 650 Grand Rapids residents ages 15 to 24 beginning June 14.

GRow1000 will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks from June 14 through July 23. Youth participants will work 20 hours each week earning $10 an hour for those under 18 and $13 an hour for those 18 and older. To participate, individuals must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 24 years old as of June 14
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

“We appreciate the community’s support in making this program possible,” said Mark Washington, city manager. “Providing meaningful work is important in helping our youth stay productive and build skills during the summer. There are more than 9,000 youth in Grand Rapids between the ages of 15 and 21. Nearly three quarters (73%) are under the age of 18 and are persons of color.  Investing in GRow1000 means investing in our community’s future!” added Washington. 

Youth may apply now through April 19 HERE. Required paid training begins May 18. Bus passes will be available as needed. As the employer of record, the City will process youth applications and match them to available positions.  Businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in one of two ways:

  • Provide paid job or internship experiences. Total amount per youth placement is $1,600 (under 18) and $2,000 (18 and older).
  • Provide financial contributions to support placement of youth at local nonprofit organizations. Individuals are also welcome to donate.

For more information, to register as an employer, or to donate, CLICK HERE.

“Great cities have strong summer youth programs,” said Fred Keller, founder/chair, Cascade Engineering and one of the business leaders of the GRow1000 program. “This is an important moment for business to partner with our city to show our youth the future opportunities and experiences they may have right here in our community,” said Keller.

Last summer, GRow1000 helped employ 354 youth at more than 60 unique job sites that spanned area businesses, nonprofit organizations, health care and higher education institutions, and government.

Businesses and organizations that have committed to GRow1000 to date are:

  • Amway Corporation
  • Autocam Medical
  • Behler-Young Company
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cascade Engineering
  • City of Grand Rapids
  • Celebration Cinema
  • Crowe
  • Crystal Flash
  • Davenport University
  • DeVos Family Foundations
  • Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.
  • EuzenConnect
  • First National Bank of Michigan
  • Fox Motors
  • Flexco
  • Frey Foundation
  • Fusion Education Group
  • Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
  • Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
  • Jireh Metal Products
  • Kent County
  • Kent County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Kent County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mary Free Bed
  • Meijer
  • Metro Health
  • MSU College of Human Medicine
  • NN Mobile Solutions
  • Nucraft Furniture
  • Progressive AE
  • Renaissance Church
  • Rockford Construction
  • RoMan Manufacturing, Inc.
  • SeyferthPR
  • Spectrum Health
  • Terryberry
  • The Factory
  • The Right Place, Inc.
  • Trillium Investments
  • Warner Norcross + Judd
  • Wege Foundation
  • West Michigan Works!
  • W.K. Kellogg Trustee Donor Advised Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Xpressions Christian Dance Arts Academy

WMSBF features OKT among those celebrated for Black Excellence in Sustainability

Thank you West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum for highlighting OKT’s work
with the following article that was posted on your website!

Lisa Oliver-King is the Executive Director with Our Kitchen Table (OKT), a nonprofit organization that focuses on food and environmental justice, which go hand-in-hand with sustainability. Lisa said, “As minerals, soil, seeds, foods, water, and even air became to be viewed as resources to be traded for profit by those in power, those without power increasingly are harmed by the results—and often exploited for labor. In a world where clean air, healthy soil, healthy food, and clean water are seen as human rights, sustainability will follow”.

Lisa Oliver-King

Our Kitchen Table makes its impact by engaging in dialogue and planting seeds of activism that go beyond planting a garden or growing a tomato. She mentioned that OKT’s work is like an analogy that the late Wangari Matthai spoke to—that we are one snail with a drop of water on our back making our way to help extinguish the fire. Lisa further notes that “True sustainability looks like people of the world enjoying food sovereignty, clean water, and peace as the result of living in a global culture that values the earth, health, and economic equality”.

Lisa is proud to celebrate OKT’s Food Policy for Food Justice series and their ability to teach neighbors to grow their own food, share the message of food justice, and maintain a walkable neighborhood farmer’s market for ten years, which increases the access to healthy, local produce. She is also proud that she and the Our Kitchen Table team are helping to change the focus from food charity to addressing root causes of hunger and food insecurity and that by working alongside constituents, they have become not only teachers but colleagues and students. 

Systemic and institutional racism and funding structures have been barriers and challenges while working in the sustainability and environmental justice field, especially as a POC-led organization. Lisa mentioned that gaining trust has been challenging at times, but that building relationships is key to working collectively. Although there are many barriers to this work, Lisa believes that now is the time to build awareness that there has never been food justice in the United States, and to acknowledge that healthy food and clean water are basic human rights. She looks forward to the end of the disempowerment of People of Color and invites any sustainability professionals to share a meal with the OKT team to have an authentic conversation about how food justice intersects with racism, women’s rights, animal rights, workers’ rights, clean air and water, academic equity, and public health. 

Free how-to expungement webinar

When: Tuesday, March 30, 5:00 – 6:30pm EST

Cost: Free

Where: Register for this webinar on Zoom here or join us on our Facebook page.

On March 30th at 5:00pm, ENTF is hosting a webinar around the clean slate laws that were passed in 2020, qualifying records, and the expungement process with partners from Safe & Just Michigan, Legal Aid of Western Michigan, and West Michigan Works! These laws will help more people get good jobs and find safe and affordable housing. This benefits families, communities, and businesses, and promotes dignity and public safety. Join on Zoom by registering for the webinar here, or join on the Facebook page. Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available through Zoom.


Vermont foundation surprises Our Kitchen Table with $2,500 donation

Vermont-based White Light Foundation, a non-profit built on a common bond of music, community, love, and generosity, in partnership with the band, Twiddle, supports organizations important to the band and the community that supports them. Through fundraising and community initiatives, White Light Foundation assists various charitable organizations and community causes.

In February, the foundation surprised Our Kitchen Table (OKT) with a $1,000 donation, which later grew to a total of $2,500 as part of its 4th Month of Giving, which took place during Black History Month this year. The two initiatives funded included community bail funds and the elimination of food apartheid.


When OKT’s executive director learned of the donation, she replied, “WOW! Thank you for this wonderful news. Out Kitchen Table is truly humbled and appreciative for this generous donation. Thank you for choosing Our Kitchen Table to receive a donation as part of your Month of Giving program.”

The unexpected, unsolicited email shared, “We are honored to support you and excited to share the amazing work you do with our supporters. We will be announcing the gift from our Facebook page along with a few other organizations we are supporting and will tag you and encourage people to check out the amazing work you are doing.”

In addition, White Light Foundation invited the women of OKT to join them for a video community learning session about OKT’s work shared via social media.  

“Our goal [is to] share it with our community and beyond. Our hope is to educate people not only about what you do but to provide context around the important definitions related to the causes we are supporting – like systemic racism and food apartheid,” said Steve Perlah, White Light Foundation president and CEO. “As a predominantly white organization and fan base supporting a white band from Vermont, we have learned that one of the ways we can truly do more is to help provide access to understanding and learning. It is my sincere belief that ignorance and a lack of understanding is what makes terms like white privilege, systemic racism, and food apartheid so emotionally charged.”

In addition to supporting Our Kitchen Table, White Light Foundation provided 2021 Month of Giving funds to the Nashville Community Bail Fund. Tune into the jam that helped raise the funds for causes in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Nashville, Tennessee here.

EJ virtual Fireside Chat “COVID-19 One Year Later, Where Are We Now?

To sign up and register for this event use this link.

Have a seat by the fire and join the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition for its third Fireside Chat “COVID-19 One Year Later, Where Are We Now?”. This discussion is imperative for us to have as we determine the short and long term impacts of COVID-19. Panelists for this event will be Theresa Landrum, Dr. Natalie Sampson, and Kari Fulton. MEJC’s Fireside Chat will be taking place via Zoom, however it will be broadcasting on Facebook as well. Join in and invite someone to join along around the campfire! 

MLK Holiday Art Contest to award $3000

Deadline for entries: 1 p.m., March 12, 2021

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan is set to award $3,000 through its annual art contest sponsored by Delta Dental and MSU Broad Art Lab. The 3rd Annual MLK Holiday Art Contest is open to adults from any geographic area and students, grades 6-12, attending school in the greater Lansing area. There is a $1,000 award for the winner in the adult category and $2,000 in scholarships for winning entries submitted by students. In addition, select submissions will be displayed at the MSU Broad Art Lab April 4-25.

The theme is “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

“Our theme is a quote by Dr. King from his ‘I have a dream’ speech,” said Elaine Hardy, commission chair. “We selected it because it inspires perseverance against all obstacles to advancing racial equality. We’re looking forward to seeing how this inspiration is translated into visual art.”

Students will compete in two categories: grades 6-8 and 9-12. Group submissions are allowed for students in the same grade.

More information about the art contest is at mlkmidmichigan.com/scholarships.


#Walk4GoodFood 2021

OKT is participating in the Access Walk for Good Food In Your Neighborhood. This year’s virtual Walk will fund our Southeast Area Farmers Market and 13 other non-profit organizations addressing root issues of food access and poverty. Walk in your neighborhood to help us promote a thriving food system for all. Click here to join OKT’s walk team or to donate! All monies you donate to the Walk go directly to fund the Southeast Area Farmers Market.