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Access Walk for Good Food Remains Remote, Invests in Good Food for All

#walk4goodfood2021

Join the OKT Walk Team here.

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the Access Walk for Good Food is just around the cornerAs of last year, we’ve adapted the Walk in accordance with safety precautions related to COVID-19. Instead of bringing together over 700 walkers in one day, we will be asking people to walk in their own neighborhoods anytime between May 2 and 12.  

Last year, our first remote Walk was an immense success. Though COVID-19 continues, we find great purpose in continuing a historic event that carries such rich meaning in our community. In the face of injustice, walks of solidarity and intention have been grassroots means by which people have historically shown they support a cause dear to their heart. This is why we ask our community to walk. We believe in a Good Food System, with abundant access to food that nourishes, creates connection, and supports thriving local economies and opportunity for all.  

We are thankful for our title sponsors, SpartanNash and Andy J. Egan Company Inc., along with many others who are supporting this year’s Walk for Good Food. The Walk is one of the best ways to invest in long term impact and food justice in our community. As we move forward from the impact of COVID-19 on our community it is more important than ever to support organizations working to provide healthy, fair, green, and affordable food to those who need it the most.

By walking, teams and individuals are able to raise funds for non-profit organizations doing crucial work in our community. Over the course of 43 years, the Walk has raised more than $6 million for dozens of local and international non-profits. This year, the Walk will fund 14 organizations working towards a good food system. The work of these organizations ranges from community gardening and neighborhood-based fresh markets to meal delivery programs and community development initiatives.

This year’s Walk for Good Food will remain remote. This means households are encouraged to walk in their neighborhoods. You can do your walk anytime between May 2 and May 12. Follow along via Access’ social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) using #Walk4GoodFood. Participants will receive an individual fundraising page that can be used to collect donations. Those not interested in walking can still create a fundraising page. For those not interested in online fundraising, donations can be sent to:

Access of West Michigan
1700 28th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

The Walk is a way to bring together community members to highlight and support local organizations addressing food security and injustice. We invite you to walk and support a thriving food system for all that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable.

Learn more, register, or make a donation at http://accessofwestmichigan.org/walk/ or text “WFGF” to 44-321.

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.

Twiddle

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.

Having a Blue Christmas?

We here at Our Kitchen Table want to let you know that our hearts are with you during this 2020 holiday season. For some of us, the holidays will still hold opportunity for fun and fellowship with loved ones, though perhaps fewer of them than in years past.

For others of us, grief, loneliness, and financial difficulties may be fueling anxiety and depression.

NAMI-Michigan has created a wonderful free guide to help us cope with life during COVID-19 that you may find helpful these next few weeks. You can download or view it here: The Effects of COVID-19 related Social Isolation on the Mental Health of Racialized Communities.

The guide shares, “To preserve mental health, it is essential to maintain a sense of purpose and belonging. It is also important to find inventive ways to connect with others virtually through Facetime, Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. Do this by maintaining engagement with faith and cultural institutions in a virtual capacity for social support. Additionally, to maintain connectedness with family cook dinner in your respective kitchens and have a remote dinner together while taking turns telling your favorite family story and reminiscing about past events.

Engage in Dr. Sue Varma’s 4 Ms of Mental Health: movement (exercising), meaningful engagement (connecting with other people), mastery (being creative), and mindfulness (deep breathing and being aware). Practicing this formula can bring peace of mind during stressful times. Lastly, make plans and remain hopeful because learning to cope with pandemic stress in a healthy way not only makes you stronger, but makes our community stronger.

Browse the NAMI-Michigan website for even more mental health resources.

Farmers Market October 10 and 24!

The Southeast Area Farmers’ Market provides a wide variety of local produce, cottage kitchen foods, personal care items, crafts and ready-to-eat foods. Our vendors are primarily women of color, home growers and residents of OKT’s targeted neighborhoods. In addition to providing access to healthy food, the market hosts meal preparation activities, workshops and guests from community organizations.

We welcome Bridge Card, SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC and many other assistance and coupon programs. How the Double Up Food Bucks Program Works 

Next Southeast Area Farmers’ Market is Sept. 26

Time to place your whole foods order!

Stop by the Southeast Area Farmers Market Saturday Sept. 26 for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts.

Organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm!

Be sure to say hello to our farmers market manager, Belinda Henderson–and ask her about ordering bulk whole foods with us, e.g. dry beans, whole grain flours, nuts and seeds, pasta, rice and more..

Items are ordered from Country Life Natural Foods, a supplier to Michigan food co-ops. View the entire PDF Catalog herePlace your order by emailing media@oOKTjustice.org or in person at the market.  Orders will be available for pick-up at the market on October 10.

As the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market accepts Bridge card/SNAP/EBT, its patrons using these programs will be able to buy bulk food items at the market along with fresh, local fruits, vegetables and herbs. The market offers some bulk foods for direct purchase as well. By ordering together, minimum purchase requirements for free delivery are met. Food orders will not be marked up from the catalog price. And, OKT is not adding any kind of fee to orders.

GRPS shares updated P-EBT info

unnamedThe Grand Rapids Public Schools just shared these P-EBT updates and information.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) food assistance benefits will go to Michigan families with students ages 0-26 that are eligible for Free or Reduced-Price School Meals. This includes families currently receiving Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits, as well as those not currently enrolled in the program. No application is necessary for eligible families to receive P-EBT benefits.

Program Information

Q: When will P-EBT cards be mailed out?
A: P-EBT benefits are being distributed in waves. The first round of benefits for families with active Food Assistance Program cards started last week and will continue to be distributed through the first week of May. The benefit will go to their bridge card. Families that do not have a bridge card will be mailed a P-EBT card. These cards will also be distributed in waves. The first cards start mailing out April 26th and will continue through the middle of May. Instructions are being mailed out for how to use and activate the card.
Again, it will take until the middle of May for cards to be mailed out. Please encourage families to hold off on calling DHHS with inquiries and wait for the first round of mailing to go out.

Q: Will there be directions on how to use the card?
A: There will directions mailed about a week ahead of the card. To activate the card, call the phone number on the back of the card. You will need the EBT card number on the front of the card, your zip code, and the date of birth of the oldest child in your household. You will need to set a four-digit pin number

Q: What address will the P-EBT card be sent to?
A: If the student was already receiving SNAP benefits, they will automatically receive the P-EBT benefits on their current Food Assistance Program (FAP) card. If the student is eligible based on a Free or Reduced-Price Meal Application, a new P-EBT card will go to the address in the Michigan Student Data System.

Q: Will there be an email or phone number available for parent questions regarding the P-EBT cards?
A: MDHHS is processing cards in batches thru mid-May. If you receive calls on P-EBT cards you may supply them with this number 1-833-905-0028. Keep in mind they might not answer the questions until then.

P-EBT Student Eligibility

Q: I have multiple school-age children, how much will our family be eligible for?
A: The pre-loaded Pandemic-EBT card will come in the mail and will be in the oldest school aged child’s name, not the parents name. Keep the card for ongoing benefits you may receive. The benefit amount for March/April is $193.80 per child and will be available by the end of April. The benefit amount for May/June is $182.40 per child and will be available by the end of May.

Q: For students that attend a CEP school, will all families be eligible for the P-EBT program automatically
A: In schools where all students receive free lunch and breakfast, which in Michigan is the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), all students will automatically receive the P-EBT benefits.

Q: Do schools need to send anything over to the Michigan Department of Education?
A: For non-CEP schools, eligibility for P-EBT was based on data reported in the Supplemental Nutrition Eligibility (SNE) field in the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS) Spring Collection.
Updated addresses or student eligibility will need to be submitted through the Student Record Maintenance in the MSDS. Records that are submitted by the April 28th SRM will be eligible for April, May and June P-EBT benefits. Records that are submitted for the May 12th and 26th SRM will be eligible for May and June P-EBT benefits.

Q: Are Head Start and/or Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) families receiving the P-EBT card?
A: Students in Great Start Readiness Programs, GSRP/Headstart Blends, Early Headstart, and Headstart that were reported as part of the Early Childhood Collection as eligible for Free and Reduced-Price Meals or directly certified have been included.

Q: Are students who attend non-public schools eligible for P-EBT?
A: Directly certified students who attend non-public schools were included in the list of students eligible for P- EBT. If the student was already receiving SNAP benefits, they will automatically receive the P-EBT benefits on their card. For other directly certified students without an address with DHHS or the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS), the card will be sent to the school and the school must mail the cards to the families.
If a student was a shared time student with a public school and that school reported the student in the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS) as eligible for Free and Reduced-Price Meals, they will receive the benefit through the public school’s reporting.
There is not a state collection where F/R application eligible students are reported, but we are working on ways to try and include them at a later date.

Q: Are 18-26 special education students eligible for P-EBT?
A: Eligible, enrolled special education students are eligible for P-EBT.

Q: Do children that are homeschooled qualify for this program?
A: Unfortunately, homeschool children were not included in the list for P-EBT because they are not in the public school records. However, all Michigan children are eligible to participate in one of available Meet Up Eat Up sites. You can look for the closest site to your home at: www.michigan.gov/meetupeatup or Dial 211 to find out more information on resources in your local community.

New Free and Reduced Applications

Q: Will newly eligible students, through Direct Certification or an approved Free or Reduced-Price application, be eligible for P-EBT.
A: Yes, students with new eligibility will qualify for P-EBT. Updated student eligibility will need to be submitted through the Student Record Maintenance (SRM) in the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS). Records that are submitted by the April 28th SRM will be eligible for April, May and June P-EBT benefits. Records that are submitted for the May 12th and 26th SRM will be eligible for May and June P-EBT benefit.

Q: For families with multiple children, how will the card be loaded?
A: The pre-loaded P-EBT card will come in the mail and will be in the oldest school aged child’s name, not the parents name.

Q: What do GRPS families do if they did not receive a communication in the mail from the state about P-EBT benefits?
A: Families should be referred to Steve Slabbekoorns in Nutrition Services. He is available at 819-2135 or email at slabbekoorns@grps.org. Nutrition Services will work with Student Data Systems to submit updated data to the state system.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) Frequently Asked Questions (Spanish)

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) Frequently Asked Questions (Kinyarwanda)

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) Frequently Asked Questions (Swahili)

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