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?
TUMC: The Community Ministries Program at Trinity UMC works with children and families in our community providing a safe place for children to learn and grow. We work to support local families through meals for families and after-school programming. We also create opportunities for our community to learn about topics around food interests too! We support this mission by providing opportunities for children and families explore new foods, have access to home cooked meals, teach basic cooking skills, while having better access and knowledge about those foods. We also provide opportunities for community members to explore container gardening options and promote trying new ways to bring fruits and vegetables right to their doorstep!
AWM: why is Good Food important to your organization? 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?
R&T: Access to Good Quality Food is so important to our community and our program. We work to introduce children to new fruits and foods that they might not have experienced previously. We focus on homestyle cooked meals instead of prepackaged, highly processed meals that we give to our families. We also, introduce concepts of growing food that can be accessible no matter where you live and provide healthy options even on a balcony or front porch.
The Community Ministries Program and Trinity UMC do our best to teach children and families about ways to eat better while having fun with new fruits and vegetables. One example we have done projects where the children receive tomato plants in a 5 Gal. bucket to introduce the concept of container gardening. This way they can grow cherry tomato plants where is it exciting to watch it grow and it is accessible throughout the summer. Our hope is that this peaks the interest to see what else can they grow in such a simple way that is very cost effective and can become a lifelong hobby. It is also a potential resource for sharing, trading and even selling which can make it more sustainable to continue in the future.
AWM: what would you like to see come out of this year’s Walk for Good Food?
R&T: I would love to see an increased awareness of the work being done in the community through organizations and the work that still needs to be done coming out of the Walk For Good Food. I also would like to see more people become advocates in the community. Having more people looking at good quality food systems and teaching people ways to improve access to health quality food for all would be a positive thing.
AWM: Does your organization have a favorite food memory?
R&T: One great food memory we had was during one of our Wednesday evening meals with the community children was when we would bring out new fruits for the children to sample for the first time, fruits like; pomegranates, starfruit, dragon fruit, mangos, etc… Seeing their faces light up and get excited when trying something new always is a delight in our program!
The Community Ministries Program takes providing access and education to good quality food seriously. We love to help our children explore new ideas and concepts around access to food and appreciate the support from organizations like Access of West Michigan and the Walk For Good Food!