This post is part of a series of interviews of recipient agencies for the Access of West Michigan 2021 Walk for Good Food. This year, we have 13 in total, each with their own role in creating a thriving Good Food system in West Michigan. Read below to see why Good Food is important to their work, and check out our website at accessofwestmichigan.org/walk to learn more or to walk with us!
AWM: how would you describe your organization — what is your mission and what work do you do towards that mission?
UCOM: UCOM’s mission is to provide access to good nutritious food to everyone in our service area and to provide educational support that will help all of our neighbors to enjoy the equity and justice we all deserve.
AWM: why is Good Food important to your organization?
UCOM: UCOM values the health of our land and its people and is committed to the Good Food movement. We seek to both nourish and sustain through the choices we make and the resources we make available. We believe that a value of good food and a culture of health benefits our mission and neighborhood by providing resources and tools they can utilize for enhancing their quality of life and building the life they envision for themselves and their families.
AWM: how does the Good Food Systems goal (of fair, healthy, green, and affordable food) impact the way that your organization sees its mission or does its work?
UCOM: For UCOM the Good Food Systems goal has been a driving force in our pursuit of a culture of health and informs how we develop that culture. Creating a culture of health at our organization contributes to building an equitable food system. We believe part of that work is promoting and providing access to nutritious food for all and also involves equitable access to education around food skills and practices.
AWM: what would you like to see come out of this year’s Walk for Good Food?
UCOM: Financial support and relationships between people that will forward our mission, as well as increased awareness of our commitment to providing support for our neighbors’ community organizing to influence policies and behaviors that lead to justice.
AWM: Does your organization have a favorite food memory?
UCOM: One of our favorite memories includes a luncheon UCOM hosted where our neighbors provided the catering. Several neighbors were invited to prepare and present dishes representing their cultural heritage. It was a treat to watch them cook and to see their excitement in explaining the dishes they chose and what they meant to them. The joyful atmosphere as everyone made their way around trying the various dishes was an afternoon to remember!
Another high point are the testimonies of our neighbors that growing their own food not only helps to sustain them, but also builds community around this common interest.
AWM: Is there anything else you want us to know?
UCOM: UCOM is dedicated to doing the hard work necessary to educate and sensitize ourselves to support the efforts of our neighbors for impacting change in our service area to promote equity and justice. We are determined to move from creating programs for our neighbors to becoming a supportive presence as they organize to affect system change in our community.