Exploring Healthy Food Work

When it comes to putting our definition of Healthy Food into practice, there is an important thing to keep in mind: while there are some general characteristics that are common to foods we call “healthy” (such as nutrient-rich and low in added fats, sugars, or salts), everyone is going to have a different approach to what food is healthy for them. If you recall, the definition of Healthy Food in the Michigan Good Food Charter is food that, “provides nourishment and enables people to thrive.” In order to thrive, we not only need access to fresh, whole, nutritious foods, but also food that nourishes our mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Access recognizes that we need to cultivate food systems that prioritize food sovereignty and culturally relevant foods to this end.

Access’ Refresh Now program is dedicated to promoting access to Healthy Food. Refresh Now is a food prescription program that uses food to help improve health for those working to address a major chronic disease or risk factors for a major chronic disease like Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease, cancer, major mental health disorder. The long-term goal of Refresh Now is to improve the health of the community, create support for the local healthy food economy, and promote the wisdom of using food as medicine. Currently, the Refresh Now program has two local community partners in Exalta Heath and Catherine’s Health Center. In our previous Produce Prescription Program, ninety percent of participants reported an increase in self-management of chronic disease.

The journey toward Healthy Food systems certainly isn’t over yet, but it is good to see what starts have already begun in West Michigan. To learn more about healthy food systems or to see more of what’s going on locally, check out the resources in the comments! We will be looking deep into the other tenets of a Good Food system in the weeks to come and encourage you to join in this local effort towards Good Food Systems yourself by participating in our upcoming Walk for Good Food in May!

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