“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” This Hopi Elders wisdom embodies the spirit of community members across Detroit, Michigan who are taking the initiative to support one another through collecting, sharing, and organizing around one of life’s most common necessities: food. Below, read about the work of the Eastside Solutionaries Collective in their own words.
Do you love the community you live in? What have you done to ensure your community is one that’s sustainably beloved?
A sustainably beloved community is robust with the beauty and riches of diverse talent, age, vision, willingness to listen and share, color, belief, challenge, economy, education, etc. Additionally, the importance of expressing empathy, compassion, and action is also its foundation.
This is what our beliefs and practices are on Field Street in Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood where a lot of our focus has been finding solutions to filling the food insecurity gap.
Some of us, like Meiko Krishok, founder & operator of The Pink Flamingo & Guerrilla Food Catering, are spearheading their own community garden and inspiring others on our street to do the same. Others have adopted the idea of a food ministry as a solution to filling the food insecurity gap.
Belinda Gilmore, an owner of Black Bottom Businesses, LLC, has led an ad hoc food ministry for more than three years. Gilmore began operating a food share at a local church, but when the operation became too large, she moved it to the building she hopes will house her business soon.
Many who participate in the food ministry have income, but inflation has caused issues. Inflation has expanded to 7% in 2021 and 7.9% in February of 2022, causing costs to go up. Some paychecks have adjusted for inflation, but others still face financial pressure.
The food ministry has distributed up to 1,000 boxes of food weekly throughout the pandemic. Although the harvest was great, the workers were few. A small, but mighty team of mostly seasoned citizens became exhausted, and that project had ended. Continuous demand caused people to ask, “When are the food boxes coming back?”
Solutions eventually came to Belinda as she was approached to join a food share with food provided by a local grocery chain. This huge piece has grown from a few families participating occasionally, to over 100 families participating every week.
These ad hoc efforts now provide great, tasty, and nutritious food for between 300 – 500 people every week. Gilmore is first to admit that she depends on her ad hoc team to distribute food to their groups, by any means legally necessary. Members of the team’s groups are encouraged to share with others in their community – and they do.
Extending mutual aid
Next, a young and innovative community member reached out and introduced the possibility of hosting a community fridge on their property. After months of planning and funding this community asset, Black Bottom Businesses, LLC., the Detroit Community Fridge Project, Planted Detroit & Sister Pie stepped out of the box, collaborated, and introduced the first Community Fridge in Islandview in March 2022.
The Community Fridge is located at the corner of Kercheval and Field Street and is maintained for 24-hour usage. Anyone is welcome to visit — take what you need and leave some for others.
Please share what you’d want to have and keep it clean.
In less than two weeks since its opening, the shelves of the fridge, freezer, and dry good pantry have been filled many times. Each time a team member checks on the project, the shelves are bare once more.
Gilmore is moved by her spirit to help fill the food insecurity gap saying, “We are trying to help people make ends meet. Our team of partners does this out of genuine concern for those in need. It’s a ministry.”
Article originally published on the Eastside Solutionaries website.
- Eastside Solutionaries Facebook Page
- We Are the Key to Our Own Recover (Carter)
- A Neighbor-Based Pandemic Response (Filapek & Bokelman)