Why is it so urgent to solve the youth unemployment problem? The data collected by Detroit Food Academy show that 35.9% of young Detroiters are neither working nor in school, the highest rate in the country; 1 in 6 ages 16-24 are disconnected from school and work. Government cannot solve youth unemployment by its self, and that’s where Detroit Food Academy stepped in the situation. Detroit Food Academy offers students who are interested in food business a chance to turn their ideas into reality. Although some programs offer kitchen knowledge, business management training for high graduates, Detroit Food Academy tries to not only provide work experience, education, and youth development, but also engage students while they are still in school. DFA is famous for its academy programs which provide basic knife skills, nutrition fundamentals, smart grocery shopping, meal budgeting, culinary arts and also entrepreneurship training and business skills.
The session I work with is Small Batch which is the for-profit session under the whole non-profit Detroit Food Academy. It owns Mitten Bites, all-natural snack bars packed with nutrition and flavor, which is created by some students in After School Program. It took them 5 years to make Mitten Bites as a shining youth-driven product in local markets. Mitten Bites use profits they make to hire more student employees. As the business expand, they can hire more students, therefore helping more youth get employed.
Duke team is lucky to join Small Batch as Mitten Bites just starts shining in Detroit. My partner Henry and I help Small Batch to be well-organized from inventory system to social media impact as preparation to be a bigger company. Since Mitten Bites just shos up in local groceries such as Whole Food and Eastern Market, it does not attract as much attention as it deserves. From that, we work on Facebook Page and Instagram to increase attentions among Detroiters. Moreover, we find out that, as demand goes up, we need not only more systematic way to track each ingredients such as honey, dark chocolate chips and coconut, but also each bar produced and case tracking number. Beyond that, we conducted interviews for directors and students in Small Batch to help people know more about Mitten Bites. We are here to help Mitten Bites assert more impact on the local community and let people understand why it is so important for us to persist.
Like Jeanette Pierce said “Detroit is big enough to matter in the world and small enough for you to matter in it.” Even though I am such a small pin in the map of Detroit Food Academy, I still believe I can matter in the big picture.