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Access to gardens, farmers markets in low income areas to increase

Our Kitchen Table was recently awarded a $300,000 grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to encourage healthy eating and seed-to-table programs in southeast neighborhoods.
Lisa Oliver King leads a group on an East Town Garden Tour.

Lisa Oliver King leads a group on an East Town Garden Tour. /Our Kitchen Table

Additional Information

Additional information on Our Kitchen Table and the Kellogg Foundation can be found at the following websites:

Our Kitchen Table

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Community members enjoying fresh eats at the Southeast Area Farmers Market.

Community members enjoying fresh eats at the Southeast Area Farmers Market. /Our Kitchen Table

In March, Our Kitchen Table (OKT) will host an open house to celebrate a recent grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). The $300,000 grant was awarded December 1, 2013 and continues until December 31, 2016. The grant is part of the Kellogg Foundation’s efforts to support groups that encourage access to local healthy food and bridge the gap in nutritional and environmental inequalities throughout their communities.

"The work of Our Kitchen Table fits squarely into our strategies around Food, Health, & Wellbeing, but also because they approach their work using practices for community engagement and racial equity.  At WKKF, we focus our work on communities with high health disparities and Our Kitchen Table is an organization that brings food and environmental justice learning and practice to families and communities," says Andrew Brower, WKKF Program Officer for West Michigan.

"Anybody who wants to do a garden, we try to help in some way to share our resources because we really want to encourage people to grow and share food," says Lisa Oliver King, the Executive Director of OKT.

The Food Growing Program is a key project that provides households with the materials to grow their own food for a year, from seed to table. They assign garden coaches to families to help them throughout the process, as well as provide soil testing for their plots. The program has gone from supporting seven households in 2009 to 25 in 2013.

OKT plans to use the Kellogg Foundation grant to expand the scope of their Food Growing Program by revisiting their key neighborhoods and extending support to additional families.

They are also looking at transforming their South East Farmers Market into a 501c3 nonprofit organization and creating the tools needed to support it.

“We are appreciative that the Kellogg Foundation made the decision to invest in our efforts for a second time. They are helping us build our capacity and infrastructure around the work that we do," says King.

OKT was founded in 2003 as a grassroots nonprofit organization designed to support lower income communities in the greater Grand Rapids area. The organization focuses on diet and environmental health challenges coupled with access to food and growing in key areas. OKT works heavily in the Baxter, Eastown, SECA and Garfield Park neighborhoods. It specifically targets single women with children 6 years and younger to increase their access to healthy food and gain a better understanding of public health and policy.

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