2014 Detroit Food Policy Council Summit, “Race to Good Food,” carries the message of food justice

Arts / Article

Founding board member Malik Yakini (left) and Council Member JoAnn Watson (right).

On Thursday, April 3rd and Friday, April 4th there was a “Race to Good Food,” otherwise known as the 2014 Detroit Food Policy Council (DFPC) Summit–an annual opportunity for proponents of urban agriculture, food justice and issues of public health and nutritional access in Detroit to convene and share ideas, challenges and hopes for Detroit’s future. The council was founded to create “a sustainable, local food system that promotes food security, food justice and food sovereignty in the city of Detroit.” Conceived of by founding member Malik Yakini, who was honored during the opening ceremonies, and passed unanimously through City Council with the support of Council Member JoAnn Watson, who was also recognized as an ardent supporter of the food justice movement within the city, the DFPC has been working toward the achievement of food justice since 2009.

Food justice advocates representing the city's districts introduced their neighborhoods and called upon the audience to represent their place in the city.

Food justice advocates representing the city’s districts introduced their neighborhoods and called upon the audience to represent their place in the city.

This year’s summit took place at Focus: HOPE and had a greater-than-ever youth presence, with a huge turnout of students from schools around the city, including Cooke, Ludington, Kimbe and Academy of the Americas. Drawn perhaps to participate in the Detroit Youth Food Justice Task Force, the students present a bright vision for progress in a city historically fraught with inequity around access to nutritious, fresh foods.

The opening day crowd, which included many Detroit students and luminaries of the urban agriculture movement.

The opening day crowd, which included many Detroit students and luminaries of the urban agriculture movement.

After a brief introduction  by indefatigable  coordinators, Cheryl Simon and Renee Wallace, and the address by keynote speaker LaDonna Redmond, founder of The Campaign for Food Justice Now, the summit broke out into discussion groups. The groups addressed a wide range of topics, from “Nutritious Food For a Lifetime: From Infants to Elders” to  “How to Create a More Equitable Food System” and “Cooperative Economics”—which acts as a timely supplement to the new Ujamaa Food Co-Op & Buying Club, organized through the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN). Congratulations are due to all organizers, board members, volunteers and participants for a great summit.

The DFPC has a number of work groups that meet throughout the year to carry forward the plans and imperatives identified at the summit. Join one at any time to help carry the movement forward, ensuring all Detroiters have access to healthy food!