OKT awarded $300 grant by Slow Food West Michigan

On March 8, Slow Food West Michigan awarded OKT a $300 micro-grant for purchasing seeds and supplies for our food gardening programsThe organization also awarded OKT its Snail of Approval, an emblem that recognizes contributions to the quality,authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the West Michigan region.

Slow Food West Michigan is the West Michigan chapter of Slow Food, a non-profit, member-supported organization founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life. It stands against the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

SFWM supports the mission of Slow Food, working closely with Slow Food USA, the national association headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. Slow Food USA envisions a future food system that is based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice—in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to catalyze a broad cultural shift away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and fast life; toward the regenerative cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.

OKT’s executive director to be guest on Blogtalkradio this evening

Click on this BlogTalkRadio link Thursday Jan. 22 at 8:30 p.m.images

Producer and host of BlogTalkRadio program In Life Now, Toresa M. Blakely, “Coach TMB,” is featuring Lisa Oliver-King on her program 8:30 p.m. tonight. Oliver-King is the founder and executive director of Our Kitchen Table.  Over the past three and a half years, the program has hosted  many local and national guests. In Life Now Radio has a global audience and its listening audience is growing weekly.
The program is live. Blakely invits listeners to call in to join the dialogue. “We will talking about all things OKT tomorrow with Lisa and I know it is going to be a power packed show. People can listen to from their desktops, laptops, ipads, tablets, iphones or tablets,” Blakely notes. “Once we go off the air, this show will be available 24/7 as a podcast via iTunes, Blogtalkradio, and Stitcher Radio.”
Listeners can call in to the show with questions or comments by dialing 619-768-7239

Toresa M. Blakely, CPLC

BCBS features OKT on its blog

Reposted from Blue Cross Blue Shield A Healthier Michigan

Our Kitchen Table Addresses Food Justice in West Michigan

OKTHelping neighbors take control of the food they eat is the central mission of Grand Rapids’ Our Kitchen Table (OKT).

“Everybody has a right to good, nutritious food,” said Lisa Oliver-King, OKT Executive Director.

The grassroots, non-profit organization works with neighborhoods on the southeast side of the city to improve access to healthy foods. OKT does this through a variety of methods, including at-home gardening instruction and supplies, cooking workshops, nutrition classes, and the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market.

Organizers are also deeply invested in getting the word out about food access as a social justice issue. They hope residents take advantage of a free, five-week class that starts this Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, titled Food Politics and the Food Justice Movement: Moving Forward.

According to OKT’s website, the class will investigate the current food system and food policy, look at food justice responses around the country, and discuss what a food justice and food sovereignty movement in West Michigan could look like.

“Our Kitchen Table isn’t just about growing your own food, but it’s about understanding the food system and your role in what that food system is,” Oliver-King said.

She explained that OKT works with people where they’re at. Not everyone wants to start their own container garden, although OKT is happy to help if they do. Even helping people understand food labels is a good start in enabling residents to take control of the food they’re putting in their bodies.

Once residents learn more about how to grow their own food or take a communal cooking or nutrition class, Oliver-King said they naturally want to learn more about the food systems in place in their communities. She said expanding knowledge about the inequalities in obtaining fresh, healthy food spurs many to then become interested in understanding public policy as it relates to food justice.

The organization must take into account a number of factors when they design curriculum neighbors will benefit from, but Oliver-King said residents often bring their own unique insights to classes as well.

“People know a lot more than what we’re willing to recognize and they share that with us,” she said.

The importance of addressing issues of food access can be seen in the many health challenges faced by children in the neighborhoods, including asthma and challenges with obesity and diabetes. Oliver-King said many times the food kids are eating is high-calorie, high-fat, and loaded with sugar.

Garden coaches work with residents on growing their own food, and show them how to incorporate those fresh ingredients into their cooking. The organization focuses on meatless meals, one-pot cooking, and raw foods, because these types of meals are often the most cost-effective to prepare. It’s also driven by utility and the fact that some residents who take advantage of the cooking programs might not be working with a fully functional kitchen. Some might be making a majority of their meals on a hot plate or even a coffeepot.

“It’s very important for us to understand that,” Oliver-King said.

If you want to learn more about food policy and food justice, as well as Our Kitchen Table, make sure to check out their free five-week class that starts this Saturday.

Photo credit: Megg

OKT Urban Forester reveals secrets to eating from city’s bounty

Reposed from The Rapidian

by John Wiegand (jwiegand08) on Tuesday Apr 22nd, 2014 11:41am in NEWS


Listen to the audio interview here:

As soon as Laura Casaletto planted popcorn seeds in the backyard of her family’s urban home, her love for natural foods was born. Despite her efforts, she was awarded a crumby crop of corn- but the passion stuck. Now, Laura enjoys scouring the city’s natural areas for edible fare in an activity known as “urban foraging.”

Casaletto is an Urban Forester at Our Kitchen Table (OKT), a nonprofit organization focusing on food and social justice for low income neighborhoods. She often leads walks through Grand Rapids parks and works to educate the community on the benefits of eating directly from nature. Casaletto sees urban foraging as part of a larger picture of nutrition.

“A hundred years ago, a slice a bread was ten times as nutritious as it is now,” she says. “The way that we grow the food now doesn’t allow plants to pull up the trace minerals that they used to. When you forage this stuff it is nutritious. The plants are fighting the same germs that you are fighting and it strengthens your immune system.”

OKT will host an edible plant walk at Garfield Park on April 22, to coincide with Earth Day. The walk is free and open to the public.