Friends, however difficult the pandemic has been for the restaurant industry, this year has also reminded us of many of the difficult, chronic issues that our society continues to face. Among the local organizations affecting change is Detroit Food & Entrepreneurship Academy, which works with hundreds of students each year. Our team has elected to do what we can to help further their mission, so we’re delighted to announce that we’re hosting a benefit dinner next month.
Having hosted DFA students at Selden Standard for internships in the past, we know and love the organization. Tiffany and her colleagues are helping to address a troubling statistic: nearly 20% of young Detroiters are neither working nor in school. This is where DFA enters, co-creating with over 300 students year-round through leadership development programming rooted in schools, our food community, and our neighborhoods.
In their food entrepreneurship program, students become creators of their own food business projects – inviting all the self-discovery, innovation, growth that process generates. Through the after school, advanced, summer, and business-launch programs, young Detroiters gain a solid foundation in culinary arts, health and wellness, food systems, and business essentials. DFA’s project-based learning model invites students to work both as individuals and in teams to apply their learnings, engage with community, and launch a food-based business project with tangible impact. Participants gain the confidence, community connections, and hard and soft skills for professional, academic, and personal well-being.
DFA focuses primarily on youth aged 14-22, offering opportunities for hands-on educational attainment, growth of career skills, and personal and leadership development. Students who have been through DFA programs overwhelmingly report improved academic performance, confidence, and relationships with peers and adults alike. We’ve had some of these students work in our kitchen, and we’d love to see DFA’s programming continue to expand.
Can such an engagement-based program continue to be effective under such unusual circumstances? It can: since March 2020, Detroit Food & Entrepreneurship Academy has shifted to a virtual format, delivering programs digitally on Zoom. In the DFA team’s own words:
[Going online] has allowed us to open our doors to a wider audience. In a typical year we serve 13 school and community-based sites in Detroit. With the switch to online programming, we now have students from all over Southeast Michigan and as far away as North Carolina. We have continued with our Afterschool Leadership Programming, now open to all youth who apply and are oriented with us, and also have launched a monthly family cooking program, where families can cook alongside a certified chef to make a healthy meal. We currently have one in-person site at the Downtown Youth Boxing gym where we are supporting groups of students learning healthy cooking techniques, nutrition and fitness. In the winter months we will partner with local fitness leaders to offer free virtual movement classes to our youth and their families.
Although we are remote, we will be ensuring hands-on learning by delivering nourishing groceries, kitchen equipment, PPE, and fitness equipment right to our students’ homes. This will allow us to continue engagement with hundreds of youth across the region while helping families meet their needs.
While you’ll miss some great food and wine, you still have a chance to support a great organization. Visit the DFA website to help support their mission.
Tickets are non-refundable and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Should COVID concerns cause a shut-down or safety issues, we may reschedule for a later date. As always, we will do our best to accommodate all allergies and dietary restrictions, but we ask that you email us after booking so we have advance notice.