A local grass roots nonprofit working for environmental justice and urban food security, Our Kitchen Table (OKT) has received a $360,000 grant “to strengthen the capacity of southeast urban neighborhood residents in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to address food and environmental health disparities impacting vulnerable children, families, and individuals by creating resident owned gardens and managed Healthy Food
Demonstration Sites.” The grant will extend over a three-year period with the goal of neighborhood residents taking over the work for themselves.
OKT has been addressing environmental justice and food security issues in the Grand Rapids area for the past several years. The grant will expand their
Urban gardeners learn about compost at one of OKT’s “Steps to Growing Healthy Urban Food Gardens” workshops last summer.
programs to many more area residents with the hope of making a real and lasting impact on people’s health in Grand Rapids’ urban neighborhoods.
OKT’s objectives for the grant funded project include planting and maintaining 100 neighborhood-based food gardens. OKT focuses on helping individuals and families plant those gardens in their own spaces. Education and training components will teach adults and children how healthy foods help manage both diet related illnesses (diabetes, heart disease and obesity) and environmental health issues (asthma and lead poisoning).
Twenty trained community Urban Fellows/Peer Educators will teach even more community members about food self-reliance, food security and having access to a nutritional neighborhood-based food system. Other objectives include establishing resident owned and managed Healthy Food demonstration sites and training both adults and children how to safely address environmental hazards associated with food gardening.
The project will focus on four Grand Rapids neighborhoods: Eastown, Baxter, SECA and Garfield Park. These neighborhoods have been identified as being at highest risk for food insecurity as well as environmental health issues, including lead poisoning.
In 2010, OKT offered the Grand Rapids community many educational and gardening opportunities including a food summit, food garden walking and bicycle tours and a series on healthy urban food gardening.
Anyone interested in starting a food garden or engaging with the program can contact Lisa Oliver King for more information at email@example.com.