The work of Detroit Food Academy directly affects the youth of Detroit, the city’s untapped resource. Detroit’s public school system, as I have come to realize, is one of the least equipped ones in the country and the teens are direct victims of this inadequacy. The after school programs as well as the fellowship programs run by Detroit Food Academy and Small Batch offer an alternative to the youth. They allow the students to reach their full leadership potential via culinary learning and market demonstrations of different products. The Academy mentors the students to then pursue their passions and continue developing themselves, be it through college, a job with many of DFA’s partners or their own business.
Small Batch Detroit is the arm of DFA that helps students create their own triple bottom line business focusing on People, Planet and Profit. Our work with them has allowed me to understand the need for the idea that business is a sustainable marriage between the above three components. It is a different ideology that helps young Detroiters create a better and more responsible future for themselves. The Mitten Bites are a result if this endeavor.
It took me a while to understand if and how we were making an impact on the Detroit community. After all we were not working with the teens directly. Most of our work involved photographing and interviewing partners or helping DFA optimize its operations. It took me a while to get over my idea of coming to a community and creating a miraculous solution to solve all their problems. I realized that what I was doing was probably the only effective way of helping in a period as short as 2 months. I can’t pretend to understand all the problems that the community faces. Organizations like DFA are solutions created by people who actually understand the problem and can effectively do something about it to impact the community in the long run. Working to help then was then probably the best way for me to be part of an actual impact on the community. Letting the world see hear their stories, helping people buy into the mission was then the most help I could provide.
Detroit is a place which has created its own solutions already. It has found ways to heal itself and develop. All the work we are doing is then geared up towards helping the organizations that have already helped thousands. Our work provides them with a new skill set, a fresh perspective and if that helps them do their job even better than what they are doing now then I would be happy knowing that I contributed in some way.