Tag Archive | food security

OKT’s Program for Growth is back twice as strong

New food gardens at Kentwood Public Schools Glenwood Elementary School
Our Kitchen Table has launched its Program for Growth at two schools this spring. We will again be growing food with parents, caregivers, and students at Grand Rapids Public Schools Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. And, we will be adding a new school — Kentwood Public Schools Glenwood Elementary School.
In addition to procuring organic foodplants from Blandford Farm, our food gardens will also be planted with home-grown starters from H.O.P.E. Gardens. H.O.P.E. Gardens provides programs for students in grades K-12, including garden education during school and as part of after-school and summer programs. Students grow food on school grounds, integrate garden activities into their curricula, and save and share seeds with community.

OKT hosts Aug. 12 event: “Let’s talk Food Security & Sovereignty” with Special Guest, Mike Cohen


OKT’s Southeast Area Farmers’ Market addresses food insecurity n GR’s southeast neighborhoods. Photo: Drew Davis, OKT.

Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton SE 49507
Aug. 12 6:30 p.m.
Potluck & Discussion

Farmer and ecologist, Mark Cohen, an organic certifier and Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) chapter leader from Amesville, Ohio, will lead a discussion on food security and food sovereignty. He will speak to the what, why and how of developing regional food security and food sovereignty and provide information on forming local BFA Chapters focusing on the importance of food quality and nutrient dense food.

Mark Cohen has been working alongside other folks in Ohio for three years, organizing and setting up Mineral Depots, Grower Education, Consumer Education, Networking with Allied Organizations, and Food Quality Research. The Bionutrient Food Association is a national association of voting members who agree to uphold the mission of the organization and advocate for vital soils, nourishing food and healthy people. BFA partners with Grower Members to develop and implement practices that will improve food quality while making their operations more lucrative and sustainable. BFA helps consumers identify, advocate for and locate bionutrient food. BFA advocates to retailers and wholesalers for the preferential placement and promotion of bionutrient food. Finally, BFA empowers public and private policymakers and investors to support the shift from the century-long paradigm of factory farming to one in which quality food is profitable, ecologically sustainable, tastier, and equally available to all.

This series of talks is sponsored by OKT & the MI BFA Collective. They are working together as a collective for several Michigan BFA chapters to take hold in as many communities across the Great Lake State as possible.

Women of Color Convening Thursday June 25

What Does Our Southeast Neighborhoods’ Food System Look Like?

image (2)Women of Color Convening
6 – 8 p.m. Thursday June 25
Brown Hutcherson Ministries
618 Jefferson SE 49503

Have you heard people call our southeast side neighborhoods a food desert? Do you know why this is not a true picture of our foodscape?  Let’s share information and insights that can help us discover how to create better access to healthy foods  in our neighborhoods. OKT’s executive director, Lisa Oliver-King, will facilitate the dialogue. Our cooking coach, Ms. Toni Scott, will prepare and serve nutritious (delicious!) refreshments for this free event–succotash and ginger bubbly tea. Recipes available to take home!

How Walmart is Taking Over the Food System

Reposted from Eco-watch

Walmart now captures $1 of every $4 Americans spend on groceries. It’s on track to claim one-third of food sales within five years. Here’s a look at how Walmart has dramatically altered the food system—triggering massive consolidation, driving down prices to farmers and leaving more families struggling to afford healthy food.

Low-income families are buying more at local farmers markets with Double Up program

This story was Published January 10, 2012 in the Grand Rapids Press

EBT patrons were able to purchase $1,900 worth of fresh produce by spending $950 on Double Up Food Bucks at the Southeast Area Farmers' Market last year.

GRAND RAPIDS — When officials at local farmers markets signed on with a program aimed at improving access to healthy foods while boosting the West Michigan agricultural economy, they had no idea what they were in for.

In its first year as a true statewide program, the Double Up Food Bucks program sponsored by the Ann Arbor-based Fair Food Network has proven more successful here than nearly anywhere else in the state.

Begun in 2009 with five farmers markets in the Detroit area, the program offers recipients of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp program, double the purchasing power for up to $20 worth of Michigan-grown fresh fruits and vegetables when purchased at local farmers markets.

The program offers those who qualify up to $20 in matching tokens to pay for fresh, healthy foods, funded through grants and donations from private companies and foundations. The project is aimed at improving access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables and helping to reduce the risk of diet-related chronic illness.

“We were overwhelmed literally and figuratively by the response that we had to this program,” said Christine Helms-Maletic, Fulton Street Farmers Market development project manager. “It was extremely successful.

“We had to scramble to get volunteers in there to man those machines that give out the tokens.”
Statistics for last year show the five participating farmers markets in Kent County racking up 8,750 transactions under the program, with combined sales under Double Up Food Bucks reaching $136,062.

That compares to the 10,297 transactions and $159,060 in sales at Detroit’s Eastern Market. Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the program’s largest West Michigan supporter, said the organization is pleased with the results of its $150,000 in backing last year.

“We’ve been seeing reports coming out comparing ourselves to the Eastern Market in Detroit where it was wildly successful among farmers, growers and users,” Rapp said. “We’re almost neck-and-neck in numbers and you have to consider we have a much smaller population here.
“We’ve had a really good acceptance from the local growers, too,” Rapp added. “It’s new but they’re seeing the benefits and more and more are signing up each week.”

Melissa Harrington, manager at Fulton Street Farmers market, said counterparts at four other markets in Kent County also enjoyed the program’s success. He said the program created awareness for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ inaugural farmers market last year and helped publicize the Plainfield Township’s market acceptance of Bridge Cards for the first time.

“It increased exponentially both the awareness that we accept Bridge Cards and accessibility for low-income customers to nutritious, healthy foods.” Harrington said. “Everybody said it was very successful and I don’t think any of us anticipated how successful it actually was.”

The program has now spread to 54 markets in places like Menominee, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, Bay City and Kalamazoo. Rachel Chadderdon Bair, program manager for Fair Food Network, said her group has funding for the program through 2013 but hopes to extend it or sway policy makers to address issues of accessibility to healthy foods in future legislation.

“We have funding for two more market seasons, but we’re always seeking funds to bolster the program and extend it,” Chadderdon Bair said. “We’re actively involved with trying to shape the next farm bill and hope there will be a healthy food incentive built into food assistance programs in the future.”

2011 marks OKT’s 4th year of hosting the Food Diversity Project!

2011 marks OKT’s 4th year of hosting the Food Diversity Project!

Whether you came last week or not, please join us!

OKT Community Dialogue
10 a.m. to noon on Saturday Feb. 19
Eastown Community Association
415 Ethel SE, Grand Rapids, 49506

OKT is beginning year four by growing food starter plants. Join us for a community dialogue that identifies key steps to planning and planting sustainable, year-round neighborhood, indoor, yard and communal food gardens. You’ll also learn about seed selection and future OKT activities.

· Join OKT’s Food Buying Club. No cost for membership!

· Join OKT’s Free Seed Saving Bank.

· Bring used household batteries and CFL light bulbs for recycling.

· Exchange your mercury thermometer for a free digital thermometer.

· Sign up and receive free recycle bins.

While the program focuses on low-income and vulnerable residents from four neighborhoods―Eastown, Southeast (SECA), Garfield Park and Baxter―people from outside these areas are invited to attend. Those outside targeted income groups may have to pay fees for some services associated with the project.

Check out the flyer! Community Dialogue Feb 2011

Our Kitchen Table receives grant to expand local food security projects

article pulled from: http://griid.org/2011/01/19/our-kitchen-table-receives-grant-to-expand-local-food-security-projects/

JANUARY 19, 2011

by stelleslootmaker

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 lisak1@aol.com.

article pulled from: http://griid.org/2011/01/19/our-kitchen-table-receives-grant-to-expand-local-food-security-projects/