Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Wicked Dimensions of Access: Food Hubs and Gentrification in Grand Rapids, Michigan (a Case Analysis)


Hospitality & Tourism Management Department


College of Community and Public Service

Date Range





Recently, sustainable agriculture and local food movements have made efforts to include underserved populations in their initiatives. The founding organizers of the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan, opened in 2013, desired to do the same. The Market is designed to be a hub for local food businesses, urban agriculture and culinary tourism. It is located in a primarily low-income neighborhood that is home to several organizations serving the homeless and food insecure. The first part of this panel will provide an overview of The Markets efforts at increasing access to healthy food for the local community and a discussion of The Markets impacts on the neighborhood. The second part of the panel details a study conducted to explore the impact of the market on objective and perceived measures of community access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The study tracks the availability of fruits and vegetables located near the market and the perceptions of residents regarding the availability, quality and price of fresh produce. Using the Downtown Market as a case study, the final paper highlights the value of a Wicked Problems framework. Since the market is intended to be a collective response to the interconnected and high stakes problems of poverty, access, health, diet, and environment, it demonstrates why collaborative processes are essential to effective and inclusive transformational change of our food systems.

Conference Name

Collaboration and Innovation across the Food System

Conference Location

Burlington, VT

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