We continue our interview series with Angela Newsom, Co-founder and Director of CHIRP partner organization, People’s Kitchen Detroit. You can check out other partner interviews by clicking here!

Please introduce yourself, your organization, and your background.
14523283_651615661685523_803563471519405151_nMy name is Angela Newsom and I am the Co-founder and Director of People’s Kitchen Detroit. The mission of PKD is to support the cultivation of healthy communities by sharing skills around food preparation, preservation of local harvests, and holistically preventing and managing disease. They are also part of the organizing team that hosts Food Justice Friday, a monthly family-friendly community dinner event which celebrates local food and empowers people to use their food dollars in a more conscious way.

I am a trained chef and I teach healthy cooking classes to parents and children in 1510372_672686006121105_2050751031_ncommunity settings such as schools and food pantries, highlighting local foods and infused with information on nutrition, food preservation, budgeting and more. As a founding partner in the Detroit Food Justice Task Force, I am active in the development of Cook, Eat, Talk – an organizing model to introduce communities to the concepts of food, social and environmental justice.

What was PKD’s favorite CHIRP memory?

How can we pick just one?! Collaborating with our CHIRP partners on events was so much 10402923_849348265121544_132498622516584161_nfun – like the Edible Plant Walk at D-town Farm, Cook Fresh workshops with Feedom Freedom, and Kids in the Kitchen with EMEAC. We’ll never forget the first CHIRP kick-off – little legs moving so fast while carrying shovels of compost for the relay race! We also hosted so many fun classes and events, like learning to salsa dance and eating salsa in the garden and most recently our Fall Into Fun event at PKD’s new location on the Eastside of Detroit.

What have been some of the observable or mentionable benefits and or challenges for People’s Kitchen Detroit being a part of this collaborative group?

11043031_849348105121560_4809281212823342223_nThis by far has been the best collaborative experience we’ve had. This group of partners has so much knowledge and passion for the work they do, it’s been incredible to learn from and work alongside them. Getting perspectives from such a range of sectors and experiences has been invaluable to our work.

Please talk to us about the concept behind a ‘people’s kitchen’? Why did you choose to focus your work on a ‘people’s kitchen’ rather than ‘Angela’s kitchen’? Why is community so important in confronting food related illness like diabetes or high blood pressure?

The concept behind People’s Kitchen is to create safe spaces for communities to come 14702291_1189404851115882_4070237960294005891_ntogether around food, sharing their experiences and challenges, learning new skills and resources. We create our programming in a way to open up a dialogue – it is not a teacher standing at the
front of a room lecturing to people on what types of food they should eat. Rather we invite everyone to participate in the sharing and receiving of knowledge around health and wellness. 1471813_613238235399216_1719816735_n We find that it really is a rediscovering or remembering of what we’ve known all along, what has been passed down for generations and only recently with the rise of industrial food has been forgotten. We also find that people are empowered to change negative habits if they have the support of a community. These spaces are vital in changing eating habits and reversing disease, arming people with the information they need to be conscious participants in the food system.