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Learning through food: The Detroit Youth Food Brigade

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Some Detroit high school students are learning about food, nutrition, and entrepreneurship this summer.

They’re with a group called the Detroit Youth Food Brigade, which pairs high school students with local food-based businesses.

The kids then spread out to different farmers markets around the city to sell those products.

But organizers say the program is about more than just business. They want the kids to learn about nutrition, the bigger food system, and how it works locally in Detroit.

The kids went through an intense 40-hour boot camp before launching their market days late last month. They also continue to participate in “educational Mondays” throughout the course of the program.

Julia Aguilar is one of the 20 students selected for the program this summer. She says learning how food products really get made and brought to market has been the most interesting part for her.

“And it’s been fun being at markets and interacting with other people…learning how to do all this, and learning how to be healthy,” Aguilar said.

Food Brigade co-director Amy Berkhoudt says organizers hope the students develop an awareness of how they fit into the bigger food system.

“And along with that goes the sort of health lessons and nutrition lessons and just a little bit more context about what’s going on in the city,” Berkhoudt said. “With urban gardening, [and] with the new sort of social ventures that people are doing around food. And we want to empower the students to do it themselves.”

Organizers hope the program can last, and they can bring former participants on in leadership roles in coming years.

They’re running an online Kickstarter campaign through Monday to raise money for a food truck, and other basic supplies like tables, chairs and coolers.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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