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.

You can still join the OKT #Walk4GoodFood team!

Click here to join!
Virtual Walk takes place May 2 through 12.*
Pick your day and time!

In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic,  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. 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 alaina@accessofwestmichigan.org.

*Those observing Ramadan can extend their walks through May 19.

Youth Summer Jobs Opportunity

Ages 15 – 24. Application deadline Friday, April 30. Apply HERE.

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.

Youth may apply now through Friday, April 30, 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.

“We know planning for the summer seems so far in the distance especially with these cold temperatures so youth may not realize that summer is actually right around the corner,” said Shannon Harris, interim executive director of Our Community’s Children. “This is why we’re extending the youth application date to Friday, April 30th. This will be an experience they will never forget, and it just may be what’s needed to ignite their dreams.”

Participants in GRow1000 will have the opportunity to gain work experience and social capital in the following sectors: local government, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, youth development, community development, tech, video production, finance, the arts, public relations, higher education and more. This accounts for 450 jobs with more registering daily.

More than 60 businesses and organizations have committed to hosting a GRow1000 youth and an additional 21 businesses, foundations and individuals have committed to supporting the program financially.

#Walk4GoodFood

Walk-Logo
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.