National Advocacy and Policy Officer, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, Detroit, MI
January 2, 2014
What is your role with Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan?
DW: My role is to help Gleaners and our partner networks understand and respond to legislation and policies that affect our work and the people we serve. We have a five county service area in SE Michigan including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties.
How does Gleaners work toward the goals of the Good Food Charter?
DW: Gleaners works with our partners to advocate for food policy and systems change. We also provide programming like Cooking Matters, Fresh Food Share and Smart Bites that provide relief from hunger and increase access to healthy, nutritious food.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
DW: I am excited about our community engagement and advocacy work that helps give people a voice in the debates and decisions that affect their wellbeing. We have hosted hunger summits, planning charrettes, community listening sessions and participated in grassroots advocacy efforts to communicate to decision makers at the local, state and federal level what people in our community face when it comes to hunger nutrition and food access.
What opportunities do you see for moving toward the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?
DW: I have witnessed the growth of our food system through the aggregation of small food producers, support for emerging alternative food distribution models and more direct farm to institution connections. I see continued opportunity to strengthen this work which advances access to good food and contributes to strong local food economies.
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience working toward the goals of the Good Food Charter that you’d like to share with others?
DW: I’ve been involved in this good food work since 2007 and I’ve definitely learned that real, sustained policy and system change is a long and winding journey. It helps to pause periodically along the way, acknowledge and celebrate how far you’ve come as you consider the way forward.