April 17, 6—8 p.m. at Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St SE 49507
The idea of eating healthier foods in many ways has become mainstream. However, for people experiencing income challenges or living in neighborhoods of color, access to these healthier foods is not a reality. A true food apartheid exists in our community—and that’s where the work of food justice begins.
This food justice class will define what food justice is, explore the roots of the industrial food system and investigate the many facets of food justice. If you want to know more about food justice—or become involved in it yourself—please join us for this free, brief introduction to food justice. OKT will conclude the informal dialogue with group input on how we can practice food justice locally.
On Saturday Jan. 21, Our Kitchen Table hosted a group of 17 Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students for a Food Justice class and service opportunity at Baxter Community Center. GVSU’s MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity has the goal of educating students about the Civil Rights movement and inspiring them to serve their communities in the spirit of social change. In addition, students have opportunity to experience solidarity through service projects.
During a two-hour Food Justice class, students learned what food justice is, the history of the industrial food system and actions they can take to play a part in the bigger food justice movement.
After a tour of Baxter’s food and clothing pantry, kitchens, medical and dental clinics, greenhouse and childcare center, the students divided into small groups to take on various tasks around Baxter Community Center. They picked up trash on the property, cleaned out the greenhouse, organized the food pantry and and tidied up the kitchen.
OKT was happy Baxter came on board to offer a service portion as part of the day’s activities. Hopefully, some or all of these students will go on to be champions of food justice where they live and work.
The MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity is one event in a week-long commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Food Justice Primer
6 – 8 p.m. Monday April 18
Garfield Park Lodge
334 Burton St. SE 49507
Though many know Our Kitchen Table as an organization that helps people grow food, our goal is environmental justice and, hence, food justice. On Monday, our Food Justice Primer will introduce food justice concepts, share how our current food system came to be and present opportunities to dialogue about ways we can build healthy alternatives. Yes, you can expect a PowerPoint and handouts, but the most important part of the class is you. Only as we dialogue together about food justice issues can we build a movement and create change. So, even if you’ve attended OKT’s food justice classes in the past, we hope you will join us again. Please come and share your thoughts, ideas, challenges, work and dreams for creating equitable access to healthy food in every neighborhood and demographic in the greater Grand Rapids area!
OKT staff member, Stelle Slootmaker, is facilitating this dialogue that will be based on
- Defining food justice and food sovereignty.
- How the current food system came to be and the injustices it promotes (food apartheid, exploitation of workers and animals, environmental destruction, nutrient-poor foods, et al.)
- What can we do here in Grand Rapids.
Activist, farmer, mother and MSU PhD candidate, Shakara Taylor will lead “Diagramming Your Food System” on April 25.
APRIL 18 6 – 8 p.m.
Food Justice Primer
OKT’s Stelle Slootmaker will facilitate an introductory dialogue on Food Justice at Garfield Park Lodge. Even if you’ve been to OKT Food Justice classes in the past, we hope you will stop by to share your thoughts and how you are working for food justice locally. At the conclusion of the dialogue, you are invited to stick around for a yoga nidra relaxation exercise. (Bring a blanket to lay on if you wish to practice this lying down.)
APRIL 22 6 to 7:30 p.m. Earth Day Spring Tree Tour
Laura Casaletto will take you on a foraging adventure in Garfield Park that teaches you to identify edible trees and shares information on other edibles growing in our neighborhoods. After the 30-minute walking tour, come to the lodge for snacks and dialogue on other neighborhood edibles. The Earth Day Spring Tree Tour remains one of OKT’s most “poplar” events.
APRIL 25 6 – 8 p.m. Diagramming Your Food System wsg Shakara Taylor
Learn to identify how the industrial food system functions in your neighborhood and, despite its limitations, figure out ways to build a healthier food portfolio for your families and community. A mother, returning generation farmer, educator, activist-scholar and PhD student at Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability, Shakara explores decolonial pedagogies in the food justice and food sovereignty movements within the communal praxis of black agrarianism.
A dozen or so community members have come out for the first two sessions of OKT’s food justice series, The Food Justice Movement: Moving Forward. The group, which includes OKT constituents, people from the Grand Rapids Food Co-op Initiative, Access of West Michigan and Calvin College has enjoyed great conversations. We are excited to see these folks delving into the issues of food justice and looking for ways to incorporate it into their work and lives.
Please join us for weeks three and four of this free series, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday Dec. 12 and 19 at Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St. SE 49507. The first two sessions covered food justice definitions and how the current food system came to be. Session three will address, Why food justice is about overcoming racism, sexism consumerism and other “-isms.” Session four’s dialogue will encompass What the Food Justice Movement is doing to create a better world and defining our part in it, here in Grand Rapids.
Reading material for the class will include the book Our Food, Our Right and the OKT Food Justice Series. You can view the PowerPoints and handouts from sessions one and two on OKT’s website. Please email OKTable1@gmail.com to let us know you are coming!