Heartside, gleaning, wicked problems, food insecurity


Agricultural Education | Agriculture


The Heartside Gleaning Initiative (HGI), a local non-profit organization, is a powerful example of place-based social justice work that fosters both sustainable and healthy living within the Heartside neighborhood of Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids. Since 2014 HGI has been utilizing a bottom-up approach by actively listening to its community members in order to cultivate radical change around the issue of food insecurity within the Heartside neighborhood. The Food Fighters, an interdisciplinary team of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students enrolled in LIB322 “Wicked Problems of Sustainability” during the winter semester of 2015, were tasked to work with HGI in order to address a local “wicked” challenge project. The team put their diverse knowledge, unique skill set, and values to work in tackling the wicked problem of food waste, food insecurity, and community sustainability. Armed with both the methods for ameliorating wicked problems and with key partnerships in the local community, the Food Fighters sought to further HGI’s mission to provide healthy food and education to the residents of the Heartside community, specifically designing tools to increase food distribution. Our efforts resulted in the Heartside Glean Ride mobile food cart plan as well as a brochure for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes.