Week 2 Blog: Detroit Food Academy – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 2 Blog: Detroit Food Academy

The organization I’m working with is named Detroit Food Academy. DFA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Their mission is to “inspire young Detroiters (ages 10-24) through culinary arts and food entrepreneurship… [to] grow as holistic leaders who are healthy, connected, and powerful to affect change in our communities and beyond.” DFA runs an after school program during the school year months (September-May) and a summer leadership program (SLP). During the school year, students learn about health and nutrition, agriculture and food systems, and sustainable food businesses. They take field trips, cook meals together and complete several large projects throughout the year including a mealshare for friends and family in the fall and developing a food product from scratch to market in the spring. Students can continue with DFA after their first year in the Advanced program, which goes beyond culinary arts and leadership skills and incorporates real-world work experience. The SLP is an expansion of the afterschool program and very similar – each week, students learn about a different food-justice related theme, sell products at Eastern Market, work with mentors at food businesses across the city, take field trips, and best of all… get paid!

My summer research project has multiple different parts to it. In addition to researching how to improve parent engagement within the program, I am helping to wrap up the school year cohorts, doing some data maintenance stuff and also helping to develop material for next year. Also, I’m managing the transition to a virtual SLP and will be in charge of tracking the students’ attendance and who completed their assignments each week/can receive their stipend.

My first week in the DCERP program was great. I worked with DFA throughout the school year and I was excited to work with the DFA team again. I really like the people I’m working with and the two women overseeing my internship. I do really wish we could be doing the program in Detroit – not only do I really hate sitting down and staring at a computer all day, but I think it’s also made it harder to connect with other DCERP fellows and even the guest speakers. I appreciate the time that the Tues/Thurs meetings give us to interact and learn.

1 thought on “Week 2 Blog: Detroit Food Academy”

  1. Hey Sasha,

    I enjoyed hearing about your first experience and impressions of working with DFA; DFA was originally one of my top choices for my paired community organization this summer. Your research project seems to have lots of components, but I trust that you will be able to handle them all while keeping attention to detail. Also, having the chance to work with an organization for such an extended period of time is something I aim towards when getting involved, so I appreciate your eagerness to work with DFA again this summer. Being in Detroit during this time would have been absolutely incredible, I agree, but I am still thankful the program was not canceled altogether.

    Madison D

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