In business and in life, crisis reveals opportunity, and forces us to find new possibilities.
One day early in the pandemic, a chance meeting and casual conversation between Detroit business leader David Provost and a young Detroit restaurateur turned to the topic of “food deserts” in the city. COVID-related business closures underscored both the importance of nutrition and the scarcity of grocery options for many Detroit residents.
It is not a new problem, in Detroit as well as cities around the country, but the pandemic brought it into a new light.
Together, the two developed a pilot program to test an idea for building a new model to address food insecurity. With a donation from Provost, the restaurateur, who prefers to remain anonymous in his public service rather than gain credit, oversaw the preparation of 10,000 nutritious meals delivered over 10 weeks to pandemic shut-in seniors living in the Presbyterian Villages of Michigan communities throughout the Detroit area.
The meals, made from fresh produce and staples gathered at Eastern Market and prepared with the help, skill, and generosity of Detroit restaurants, provided delicious nutrition and comfort in a time of need, at minimal cost per meal.
The success of this pilot program is important because the COVID pandemic is far from over, and we approach winter this year with tremendous concern for vulnerable populations. But it also is important because food insecurity among Detroit’s vulnerable populations is a problem, and although there are many prominent organizations working to address the issue, there is much to be done.
The project also supported a small businessperson and his entrepreneurial spirit as the pandemic took its toll on the food service and restaurant sectors.
Hard times inevitably remind us that the lifeblood of communities is relationships. This project was a result of chance meeting between two people who discovered they share a common goal of lifting Detroit up, and a long-standing friendship and partnership that enabled us to come together to fulfill PVM’s mission of supporting seniors.
Detroit is America’s home of innovation. But every entrepreneur knows bringing visions to life requires partners, and we encourage Detroit’s philanthropic community to continue supporting fresh ideas for keeping our communities safe and healthy as we persevere through these challenging times. If we continue to look for the opportunities revealed in crisis, we will emerge stronger than ever and with disparities made less damaging.
president and CEO
Presbyterian Villages of Michigan