Converting Food Sustainability to Equity and Inclusion – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Converting Food Sustainability to Equity and Inclusion

The community organization I am working with is FoodLab Detroit. FoodLab is a community of black food entrepreneurs that are dedicated to enhancing the definition of good food in Detroit as well as making it a sustainable reality. Foodlab is committed to helping these black owned businesses get started and ultimately achieve their full economic potential. They do this by working to afford resources and power to these entrepreneurs who are traditionally marginalized and thus inevitably face disadvantages. Foodlab focuses on so much more than just the businesses that their members are developing, but also on the environment of the community, the setbacks, disadvantages that the members are subject to undergo; and they do this by communicating directly with these members.. FoodLab believes that food can be a vehicle for opportunity and can serve a role in equity and inclusion. To them, the businesses they work with and mentor offer more than just great food, they create social value, and even address environmental, social, and economic issues in the city.

The project I will be working on with FoodLab this summer is one that is in cooperation with another organization, Prosper Us. Together, these two organizations are working to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of a project entitled the Tapestry Project. The Tapestry Project is one that addresses the major setbacks that black business owners face in their journey, and specifically the interconnections between three major challenges hindering black business development. These three challenges include the wealth gap, trust gap, and credit gap. Our final deliverable will ultimately address the impact of this project by examining the 7 businesses participating in the project and determining whether the program has assisted in adequately addressing and remediating these challenges. The project will also go on further to serve as a stepping stone for future black entrepreneurs in their journey to starting their own businesses. 

So far, I think the experience at DCERP has been great. Of course I, as I am sure we all do, still wish that we would have all been able to interact in person and do more activities, but i think that what we have been able to do together so far has been rewarding and I hope to get to interact with the rest of the fellows even more! Additionally, while we are unfortunately in an overwhelming time, I think that DCERP has made great strides in addressing these issues rather than disregarding them.

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