Green Task Force Meeting Minutes for May 18, 2017
Call to order: 3:08 pm
Councilman Benson opens the meeting, welcoming everyone.
Benson asks for a show of hands of who made it to the Earth Day Green Awards Ceremony. Only a few hands rise, and Benson calls on the task force for better attendance of next year’s event. Despite a lack of a attendance from the task force, Benson announces the event was very good, and that it was great to recognize lots of hardworking people.
17 attendees present.
Each attendee introduces themselves
During Kerwin Wimberley’s introduction, he announces that the task force’s biggest win to date is that the recycling goal of 20% participation has been met. Benson adds on that a new recycling PSA going out soon that explains how easy recycling is. The video will include Benson talking about recycling with kids, should be fun, cute, and informative.
To date the recycling program has been successful by removing barriers to entry with recycling. Now 1 out of every 5 homes is part of the recycling program. The task force should be proud of the fact that 20% was accomplished within only three years. Several partners have made this possible. Green Living Science has played a big part in the education on recycling in schools.
Presentation 1: Monica DeGarmo with DPSCD Office of School Nutrition regarding the Farm and Garden Program and student family engagement
The Office of School Nutrition is a local food authority, so the program is funded by the USDA. Providing schools with food is the office’s number one priority. The office serves 141 total schools, 85 of which are DPSCD schools (additional schools come on because the Office of School Nutrition is federally obligated to provide resources when any public schools ask for support). In the DPSCD schools they provide 80,000 meals per day during the school year. During the summer the office also organizes the Meet Up and Eat Up program. Fresh fruits and veggies snack program from the USDA allows for purchase of fresh ingredients.
Shareholders vs stakeholders: In 2008 the program shifted back to operating in-house, when they had been outsourced previously. Before 2008 37% of the budget was spent on food. When outsourced the program announced it would being in $25 million in funding over 5 years, but they ended up only bringing in $1.4 million. Since the program shifted back to in-house in 2008, 52% of budget is now spent on food. 35% of the total amount of food provided by the program is locally sourced, which is a lot compared to other school food programs.
Revenue and Budget: CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) reimbursement of $3.24 per meal. It doesn’t matter now if you don’t “qualify” for a free meal; there are no more tokens so everyone in the schools get free meals without stigma. A little known fact is that the DPSCD Office of School Nutrition also provides district catering to generate additional revenue, which helps its programs.
Vendor/supplier policy: the program prefers Michigan produce/ingredients. Contract language allows them to pick contracts with Michigan farms that are more expensive than out of state. The office works with Cultivate Michigan to make this happen.
Nutrition: Partnership with Lifetime Fitness and their foundation. Zero tolerance of harmful and unhealthy ingredients, several of which are in addition to the USDA requirements.
OSN food item highlights: No chocolate milk (parents still upset about this), Meatless Mondays, no deep fryers, increased salad bars, no carnival food, Russell street deli (trying to get that partnership happen), Detroit Made bread everyday, accessible fruits.
Food Systems Change: Started in 2013, and the program provides school gardens. Students build the garden beds. Currently there are 76 school gardens. 6 raised 8X4 foot gardens per school. Monthly professional development trainings. STEAM curriculum resources. Academic aspect of running gardens is a place for growth perhaps?
Drew Farm, a local Detroit area urban farm on reclaimed land, is where a lot of the program’s food is grown. They want to replicate this farm in additional DPSCD sites. Drew Farms provides over 20,000 pounds of food straight to schools.
Improving youth connection to food: There are STEAM field trips to visit farms. Partnerships with local universities to get interns for instructors. Outdoor educational experiential learning college courses are an avenue to explore as well. In 2016 there were 38 field trips.
Greening of Detroit: Green Core will hire 100 students in the summer as employees. But they need help on the farms, so they budgeted 15 students to work full-time on the farms June through august (applications available!).
Farm stands sell the produce grown during the summer. There are 5 farm stand locations.
Family and community engagement: Family Farm Days events happen through partnerships with Keep Growing Detroit and other organizations. Starry Nights events at Drew farm as well. They are looking to incorporate fitness events in as well to tie in with the health aspect of food.
Catherine Ferguson Farm: Fall Harvest Festival. October 7th save the date!
EPA Local Food, Local Places: awards local food places. Focused at Mackenzie Elementary. They help to repurpose land so we can use it better. Thank you to Detroit City council for helping make that happen.
Presentation 2: Karl Kaebnick on DOIT city website
Isn’t it hard to remember the days for curbside pickup of your garbage, recycling, and yard waste? How can we get better and more easily accessible information to the public? Karl is here to present the reworked Public Works website that makes getting this info much easier.
The change to the website is that you can look at a map of pick-up zones that is color coded, with the colors corresponding to certain pickup schedules listed at the top of the map. If you can’t locate your area visually on the map, you can type in your address to find exact place and it will tell you what day pickups are for you. You can also put phone number in to get text message reminders each week when you need to put your garbage/recycling out. Can look at the calendar to see, and sign up to get reminders for, advanced notice special days and general recycling information. The site includes a game you can play that tests you on where to put waste – either curbside recycling or trash, or items you can drop off at Recycle Here! At the end you can sign up for a free bin! The site also a ‘waste sorter’ search option, where you can search for specific terms and it will tell you how to handle them. Note that Recycle Here takes electronics from Detroit residents only.
They are looking for feedback if you want to check it out. Feedback helpful since they still haven’t done the hard launch yet. Almost everything was done in house for this project and under budget! Kerwin looking to put the new Recycling PSA on the site as well once it’s up and running. In response to question about what old people/people who don’t/can’t use the internet should do to get information, Karl says that Green Living Science still does their Green Ambassador Program to try and connect elders who don’t use the internet.
End of presentation.
Benson excited about the new sustainability office that is currently launching for the city, so lots of exciting things happening.
Going back to the discussion of recycling win, Benson mentions that San Francisco has a recycling program that is incredibly successful, but that that took them 30 years, and we’re trying to do this much faster and should be proud about reaching 20% participation in only 3 years. Benson also announces that he wants Detroit to be a Blue Ribbon sustainable city in the future, but will look into more what the requirements of that designation are.
IV. Update on Committees
Newest committee is The Renewable Energy Subcommittee: have met twice now. Represent a variety of community and organizations and solar businesses. Want to make Detroit a renewable energy city. Looking into neighborhood solar. The huge power outages in February made these goals seem like a necessity. One of the goals is, can Detroit be the same as Grand Rapids and become completely renewable (for buildings)? What does it take to do that? Social justice piece is important and we will need to work on that. They are grateful to Benson for getting this committee together. The next meeting is June 8th 12pm to 2pm at Hannan House.
Benson mentions again how great the public private partnerships are within this task force. It’s great and really unique.
Blue Green Infrastructure met last Tuesday: There were presentations by Detroit Design Collaborative Center. From these they saw a great matrix of all the organizations working on storm water management in the city. Asked if those documents can be shared. Question moving forward is – how do we share/organize/ house this type of information? Focus on non-residential level, and what activities people can do to offset drainage charges. Next month U of M will be coming to talk about new GI report. Next meeting is the third Tuesday the same week of this meeting June 20th at 1-3pm (Location?).
Recycling update – not present
For good of the group
United States Green Building Council offer courses on LEED (Mondays from 6-8) Starting June 5th until the end of July. Classes focus on 7 different topics. Get continuing education credits if you are involved.
Dona Wilkins with Green Door. Green Door’s Blue Green Core has youth summer programs where they hire youth to do things all related to water. Beach monitoring at Belle Isle Beach and also storm water management and how to test drinking water are a few of the project areas. Program is looking for people 16-19 year old. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources funds this in order to expose young people to careers in the natural resources.
Benson: If you want to make PSAs on TV talk to him and he can help you get connected to get your message out.
How many people follow the Green Task Force on Facebook? Not many people, easiest and cheapest way to share information, so go like and follow the page!
The Sustainable Detroit Forum is looking for presentations in October.
The Detroit Water Festival is moving to the fall. You can sign up with students.
Michigan association of environmental professionals offers grants: apply to them based on education related programming for k-12 ages.
Benson regarding the task force in general: in the first year nothing was getting done, just a lot of talking. However, the Task Force began seeing success when recycling became the focus. With that priority we moved forward and made meaningful changes. But what’s next for the council? What’s our next big thing?
Litter suggested as the next issue we tackle, an idea that seems to be supported by many people in the room with a positive response. Another suggestion is to become a polystyrene-free city. The last suggestion is to “greenify the code”, or focus on initiatives to make Detroit’s public policies more environmentally friendly.
4:30 meeting adjourned.