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 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: 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 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)


Program for Growth continues via phone


Spring 2019

When Governor Whitmer closed the schools, OKT’s Program for Growth at Grand Rapids Public Schools MLK Jr. Leadership Academy kept on keeping on.

With help from her tech-savvy daughters, our executive director Lisa Oliver-King set up conference calling with program participants. Not only has the group been able to keep on learning, they have also been a great support to one another during this time of crisis.

123_1The Program for Growth involves parents and caregivers of students attending the school in food growing and healthy eating education.Through OKT’s each one-teach one philosophy, leadership of the program has come up from within. Five program participants have trained to be garden and cooking coaches for the program.

Walk for Good Food changed to virtual format



You can still join the OKT walk Team!
Virtual Walk takes place May 3 through 13. 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.)
OKT will post updates as we get them. For specific details, visit the Walk For Good Food Website.
How can you get involved?
For more information or to sign up to get involved, visit our Walk for Good Food Website. If you have any questions, contact Alaina at 616-747-0988 or

Worried about that virus? Boost your immune system and read this info from Kent County Health Department

Below, you will find information we received via the Grand Rapids Public Schools. In addition, we suggest doing all you can to boost your own very powerful immune system!

  • Eat healthy! Greens, fresh fruit, lean meats, and healthy snacks like cut veggies, nuts, and seeds.
  • Drink water, half your weight in ounces of water every day, e.g. if you weight 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces. Avoid pop and energy drinks.
  • Avoid sugar! It’s a stressor to your immune system. Read the labels on things like tomato soup and yogurt so you are not eating hidden sugars.
  • Avoid chemical additives and preservatives which also tax your body.
  • Get enough sleep! Eight hours a night for adults, more for kids.
  • Exercise! Especially if you are stressed out. Take a walk. Dance in your kitchen.
  • Enjoy fresh air and sunshine whenever possible.
  • Try mindfulness, guided meditation or prayer to further relax, de-stress, and create good intentions for your health.

The Grand Rapids Public Schools received the following communication from the Kent County Health Department at 1:33 PM on March 11, 2020.


700 Fuller NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
PHONE: 616-632-7228
FAX: 616-632-7085

Adam London, PhD, R.S., D.A.A.S.
Administrative Health Officer

Nirali Bora, M.D.
Medical Director

HEALTH UPDATE March 10, 2020
Update for Kent County Schools on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) 
March 11, 2020

Partner in Health:

As partners in protecting the health and safety of our children and families, below you will find a brief situational update as well as current recommendations for school administrators and decision-makers based on guidance from the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). Please understand that this is a rapidly evolving situation and KCHD will continue to communicate with you as information changes.


  • The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified and causes a respiratory illness ranging from a mild cold-like illness to severe pneumonia.
  • More than 80% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in China had mild disease.
  • Similar to influenza, the people who are most likely to have severe disease and complications from COVID-19 are older individuals (>60 years old) and those with other medical conditions like heart and lung disease or diabetes.
  • There is no vaccine or treatment currently available for COVID-19.
  • Currently, there are 2 presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan.  At this time cases are in Wayne and Oakland Counties.
  • Currently, there is NO confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in Kent County, but experts predict there will eventually be community spread.
  • COVID-19 is believed to spread primarily the same way the common cold or flu spreads—through respiratory droplets that are produced when someone coughs or sneezes.
  • People who are most at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 are those who have been in close contact (within about 6 feet) with someone who has the disease.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread of the virus might be possible before a person has symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  •  Implement your annual seasonal influenza plan.
    • Students and staff who are ill, especially with fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (not allergies or chronic conditions), should stay home.
    • Review sick policies for staff; ensure staff can stay home when ill.
  • Ensure prescribed cleaning is happening at school facilities (routine disinfectants are appropriate).
    •  Enhance cleaning of high touch surfaces like door knobs, toilet handles, and sink handles.
    •  Ensure that hand sanitizer, soap/paper towels and tissues are widely available in school facilities.
    •  Remind students to cover their coughs/sneezes with a tissue or their elbow.
  • Plan for when community spread occurs (non-pharmaceutical interventions or NPIs).
    • Ensure parents/guardians have a plan to designate a caregiver who is under the age of 60 for a sick child(ren) if parents/guardians can’t stay home.
    • Look for opportunities to address food insecurity for families who rely on schools for breakfast and/or lunch.
    • Identify at-home learning opportunities during student absences or school closures.
    • Identify how the school will communicate updates to parents/guardians.
    • For more information about use of NPIs to respond to pandemics, visit
  • Continue to ensure that soap/paper towels, hand sanitizer, and tissues are widely available in school facilities. Regular hand hygiene should be built into the daily routine.
  • Consider limiting the number of people that have contact with students in the school building including parents or volunteers during the school day and gatherings that occur in the school building during non-school hours.
  • Consider having students eat meals in the classroom or in smaller cohorts in the lunchroom
  • Avoid assemblies and multiple class activities to limit non-essential contact between students in large gatherings.
  • Consider canceling or postponing events that bring groups of families and students into more frequent contact with each other.
  • Have a separate room for sick children to be in while waiting for a caregiver to pick them up if they become ill during the school day.
  • The Kent County Health Department would recommend the closure of schools only if there is an imminent public health threat created by the schools being open.
  • Careful consideration for school closure recommendations will take into account the severity of disease, benefits to public health, impact on student learning, families, childcare, school staff and the economy.
  • Closing schools could potentially accelerate the transmission of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable people (e.g. older adults and those with chronic health conditions) if individuals from these categories, such as grandparents, are used as caregivers during a school closure or if children will congregate in other settings.
  • Schools in Kent County considering closure due to COVID-19 (or other infectious diseases) should work with KCHD before closing. Please contact KCHD if you are considering closing a school.
KCHD staff are working day and night to monitor this evolving situation and will continue to provide new information to the community as things change. If you have questions or are seeing increases in illness and would like to consult with our team, please call us (616) 632-7228 or the numbers below.

For up-to-date information, please visit our website at


Joann Hoganson, MSN, RN
Director of Community Wellness,  Kent County Health Department
Liaison to schools

616-632-7067 (office)

RSVP today!“The Future of Healthy Food, Healthy Lifestyle, and Community”

Mary Brown currentMon. Feb. 24, 2020, 9 – 10:30 a.m.
MLK Jr. Leadership Academy
645 Logan St. SE 49507

Unless you are a Program for Growth participant,registration is required.

Since 2014, OKT has hosted Women of Color Convenings to bring inspiring and impactful voices of color to community with the goal of empowering our constituents to live healthier and become advocates for environmental justice and equity.

Sponsored by OKT and the Grand Rapids Singularity U Chapter, the next convening features Mary Brown, SingularityU Grand Rapids Chapter Lead, and guests from the Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine program. The program engages health care professionals and community members in the importance of food as a tool in achieving optimal health. Looking at behavior change, mindfulness, plant-based nutrition, obesity and chronic disease management, the culinary medicine team seeks to elevate the current conversation about nutrition, remove the distractions of fad diets, and focus on the hard science of a well-balanced diet.

Singularity University (SU) Grand Rapids is one of 142 chapters in 66 world locations recognized as up-and-coming technology centers. SingularityU focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and human interactions, looking at how exponential technologies can be used for good in society.

In addition to her role at Spectrum, Brown is a researcher and futurist with experience human centered design, organization development. “We hear a lot of the doomsday predictions. Those are valid concerns but, at the same time, we are looking at how to be proactive and use technology for good,” Brown stated in a Jan. 2019 Rapid Growth Media story. “We have people who know a lot within pockets of the community. The hope is to get these people out and participating in meaningful and productive ways,” Brown says. “If it’s always about bringing the elite into the room — and not diverse people and inclusion in the space — then we defeat the purpose of how we are going to solve the problems. The people closest to the challenges are those who have the answers. Those who are in that elite status don’t have those same challenges.”

Photo courtesy Adam Bird