Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Detroit Food Policy Council Invites Community Action

The Detroit Food Policy Council (DFPC) was established in December 2009 after several years of work led by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. The DFPC is committed to nurturing the development and maintenance of a food-secure City of Detroit in which all of its residents are hunger-free, healthy and benefit economically from the food system that impacts their lives.

Those few words describe a complex issue. Far too many people in Detroit cannot physically get to fresh food because of health and/or lack of transportation. Many of us cannot afford the cost of healthy food or are understandably confused as to what “healthy” food means. It seems like an overwhelming topic.

The good news:

There are successful efforts underway in Detroit right now to improve our food system. More of us are gardening, cooking and sharing our knowledge with others. There are initiatives underway to improve the number and quality of grocery stores in the city. Activists, community leaders and neighbors are coming together to help create solutions that will work for all residents.

This past week, the Detroit Food Policy Council hosted four community forums to engage citizens in our work. The forums were held on April 19th at Gleaners Community Food Bank, April 20th at Nsoroma Institute, April 26 at Christ the King Church and April 28 at Most Holy Redeemer Church. Community residents gathered to hear about the history and goals of the DFPC and to discuss food and the food system in Detroit. Three sessions were held during the evening and one during the day where participants discussed and debated the positive progress and the challenges of creating a local food system that works for all of our citizens.

Citizens learned and help suggest solutions in four areas: Healthy Food Access, Urban Agriculture, Community Food Justice and Schools and Institutions. Short descriptions of each group are below.

The Healthy Food Access group focuses on access to healthy food. Access includes the ease and ability to travel to where quality food is available, as well as the affordability of that food and its cultural suitability to specific population groups within the community.

The Urban Agriculture group discusses the opportunities and challenges for Detroiters to grow, harvest and process fresh food in the city as an important means to creating a robust local food system.

The Community Food Justice group focuses on ways to ensure that Detroit’s majority African-American population, as well as Latinos, Asians and other marginalized groups, are represented at all levels and in all aspects of the food system. This group considers the impact of economic, racial and social justice issues in the food system on our community.

The Schools and Institutions group focus on schools and other public institutions, such as hospitals, colleges and universities and the prison. These institutions provide meals to large groups of individuals and can play a unique role in educating the citizens of the City of Detroit about healthy food.

The input from these sessions is being used to help plan the DFPC’s first Annual Powering Up the Local Food System Summit, scheduled for May 19 and 20 at Eastern Market. The Summit will feature learning sessions, networking and resource fair and the release of the first Annual Detroit Food Report. Online registration is now open. The cost of the two day Summit is $20 with scholarships available. For more information on the DFPC or to register for the Summit, go to www.detroitfoodpolicycouncil.net.

The Detroit Food Policy Council was established in 2009 by unanimous approval of the Detroit City Council. The DFPC consists of twenty-one members, including twelve (12) members with expertise in various sectors of the food system, six (6) "at-large" representatives and three (3) governmental representatives, each named by the Mayor's Office, City Council and the Department of Health and Wellness Promotion (DHWP).

To register for the Summit or for more information, visit http://www.detroitfoodpolicycouncil.net/ or send me an email at detroitfoodpolicycouncil@gmail.com