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Inspiration Found in Let’s Move! Detroit

The middle of March in the upper Midwest is not ordinarily a time to have much of a conversation about fresh fruits and vegetables, but the people I met in Detroit this morning are far from ordinary. Let’s Move! Detroit’s community partner Green Ribbon Collaborative, invited me to stop by the Eastern Market, one of the oldest urban farmers’ markets in the country, to learn how their unique partnership is making fresh produce a more appealing option for busy families. This collaboration is an outstanding example of what the Let’s Move! initiative is trying to accomplish in communities across the country. The Green Ribbon Collaborative is a joint effort of Gleaners Community Food Bank, the Greening of Detroit’s Urban Agriculture program, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and the Fair Food Network. The Greening of Detroit worked with 1,234 community, school or individually maintained gardens in 2010. As one of many initiatives, each month Eastern Market and the Greening of Detroit’s Urban Agriculture Program provide 20 pounds of fresh produce to residents at a minimal price. Gleaners Community Food Bank, Michigan’s largest emergency food provider, arranges for distribution of this produce via neighborhood schools and community centers on Detroit’s east side. More recently, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Fair Food Network have joined the collaborative to increase the number of commercial and community locations at which fresh produce can be purchased. Also joining us for this discussion were representatives from the health departments of the State of Michigan, City of Detroit and Wayne County Michigan, each of which have their own remarkable and complimentary initiatives to improve nutrition, increase accessibility to healthier foods and increase activity, particularly for young and minority populations. The Detroit Medical Center, the largest health care system in Detroit, was also represented as were several member of Congress. The commitment of these individuals and the dedication that this group has placed on the food system - from “farm to fork” – was impressive as were the integrated efforts at urban growing, distribution, marketing and sales for the benefit of the community. Individuals, young and old, who are involved in growing their own food have been shown to eat a healthier diet and children will also, just as naturally, emulate the behavior of the people who prepare their food. This integrated effort to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in neighborhoods makes the choice to be healthy a more convenient one. This Let’s Move! collaboration is also focused on the economic health of the community, creating jobs through the local production and distribution of foods right in the Detroit neighborhoods where all this activity is taking place. The discussion and ideas that were shared on a gray March day in Detroit left me feeling inspired -- knowing that there are remarkable individuals helping to lead Let’s Move! Detroit, by engaging in meaningful – at times, touching - integrated, collaborative initiatives that will be bearing literal and figurative fruit come spring