The Heartside Gleaning Initiative
Lisa Sisson, Assistant Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and her team who includes Melissa Harrington (Director of Fulton Street Farmers Market), Becky Mills (Graduate Assistant), and Tiffany Paige (Community Outreach Catholic Charities West Michigan), presented an idea at the 5x5 Competition held by Grand Valley State University. Five teams were given the opportunity to present their ideas in a 5-minute pitch which were voted on by five judges, who awarded $5,000 to the winning team.
"The Heartside community has very high levels of food insecurity, meaning they don't have access to food that will fit their nutritional needs, Sisson said. About 76 percent of the people in the neighborhood we interviewed experience hunger and food deprivation. It's considered a food desert by the USDA, meaning there is low access to food and low income levels in the neighborhood." Sisson said the prize money will be used to help purchase a cargo van to collect and distribute food to residents in the greater Grand Rapids community, and to increase distribution throughout the year. Since 2014, Heartside Gleaning Initiative (HGI) has collected donations from farmers and provided, without charge, more than 72,581 pounds of fresh produce, which amounts to more than 96,532 servings.