Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Center received MHealthy grant to boost fruits, veggies in the office, but then coronavirus forced everyone to work from home. Staff quickly decided to donate the healthy food to Ann Arbor Food Gatherers

Trevor Parnell, Events and Marketing Specialist

During this uncertain time, health and wellness are areas that can be easy to overlook. However, I have made it a point to embrace health and wellness for myself and for others during this quarantine period, and I’ve encouraged my fellow Center for Academic Innovation colleagues to do the same. This past spring, the coronavirus pandemic meant that a healthy food initiative could not move forward at the center because everyone would be working remotely. The plan was to boost fruit and veggie intake in the office, but then people were gone and the offices were empty. Instead of canceling, however, the center decided to reroute the local crop share items and donate them to the local Ann Arbor Food Gatherers for the foreseeable future. 

Back in fall 2017, I decided to take on the role of MHealthy Champion for the marketing and communication team within Academic Innovation. MHealthy Champions are staff and faculty volunteers who help promote MHealthy programs and act as a liaison between their department and MHealthy, the University’s initiative to encourage a culture of health at U-M. As a part of this new role, I decided to form a wellness committee for the center. Our wellness committee focuses on programming health and wellness activities and helps to encourage colleagues to participate in MHealthy programs. The committee has representatives from most of the CAI teams and this spring, we were excited to welcome our first student fellow member. 

man at table of fruits
Gathering food at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market

In the Fall of 2019, the Wellness Committee submitted a grant proposal for MHealthy’s wellness grant program. We were excited to be awarded a wellness grant for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or a “crop share” from a local orchard, Kapnick Orchards. Kapnick Orchards is located in Britton, Michigan, and stays open year-round, offering all types of produce including apples, cherries, corn, strawberries, and more. We purchased a large share, which includes a weekly share pick up from the Ann Arbor Farmers Market from June to October. This grant funding also included the purchase of blenders and other equipment that would have enabled us to use the crop share (fruits, vegetables, etc.) to host monthly smoothie parties during the summer. 

Given the COVID-19 situation, we were forced to make some changes to that plan. As a result, we have been donating our crop share each week to thelocal Ann Arbor Food Gatherers, a nonprofit food rescue organization that serves 170 nonprofit agencies. So far, we have delivered nine weeks of our share to the Food Gatherers, featuring items such as apples, peaches, homemade nut butter, cherries, strawberries, asparagus, green beans, and more. The wellness committee felt like this was a nice way to turn a challenging negative situation into something positive and our colleagues have been very supportive of these actions. 

Food Gatherers truck picking up food
Food Gatherers truck arrives to collect fresh food for the Ann Arbor food rescue organization.

Our wellness committee is hoping to be able to use the grant funding in the way that it was intended this fall, however, we will continue to donate our shares each week until the COVID-19 situation improves. 

This is just one of the many examples of ways the Wellness Committee helps to provide health and wellness opportunities for the center. We meet once a month on Wednesday mornings to talk about all things wellness, and we’re looking forward to adapting our programming in a way that makes our colleagues feel supported physically, mentally, and emotionally as we all do our best to navigate this challenging time.