Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

Everyone should have the ability to make choices that allow for a long, happy, and healthy life regardless of their income. By looking at the social determinants of health, we’ll be examining the conditions in the communities our people live, learn, work and play in, that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes.

It is crucial to seek out these determinants and biological markers if we aim to find effective methods of improving public health.

Therefore, we will use our position as a local food policy council to address the social determinants of health by identifying community needs, and providing local and sustainable access to food and food education, and disrupting the systems that are currently preventing these things from happening.

Local Initiative. Regional Impact.

Locally through our sites and food hub, we are acting as a bridge for entities working under the cottage food law. This will allow for greater income, community connections, and it will lend to the restoration and rejuvenation of vacant land in areas affected by environmental racism. On a regional level, we are offering opportunities for food security and access to food education in areas with little access in the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek regions. Nationally, we are applying a project management tool that is unique in its application. We are essentially a forum that connects producers and farmers directly to consumers and we are doing so intentionally through a human-centered, Black female lens, not only locally, but also on a larger scale.

We are taking a somewhat asset-based community development approach (ABCD).

We know that there are individuals in the community who have access to food, gardening, and other unique skills and resources that they can contribute to our organization. So, we are leveraging the people and resources in our community as assets to make improvements to address the social determinants of health from within. Zoo City Farm and Food Network as an entity have acquired the land space and developed the relationships that have led us to be able to include those who were previously excluded within the community a chance to grow and build along with us.

Equipped with this knowledge, our community can use the existing infrastructure to support economic and educational development and convert our physical sites to regenerative garden space. From there, there are opportunities to learn about superfund sites and waste management as well as environmental racism. The Zoo City community will be presented with numerous opportunities to learn about the necessary food and food safety certifications in a more supportive (fiscal, collective care) setting. With our memberships and strategic partnerships, individuals will be investing in educational opportunities and community-building pathways that will have a long-term impact on the greater Kalamazoo area.

At Zoo City we aim to improve daily living conditions within the communities we serve by developing a team that is trained to recognize and address these social markers. Our goal is to raise awareness about and examine the issues that serve as barriers that keeps folks in Kalamazoo from secure health and food. With your support, we can only continue to grow!