Academy inspires Detroit's next food entrepreneurs

Brenda Harvey talks about her experience as a student of Detroit Food Academy,
a non-profit that works with local educators, chefs, and business owners to inspire young Detroiters aged 13-24 years old through self-directed entrepreneurial experiences rooted in food. 

Brenda Harvey

Brenda Harvey (left) and her sister Brandy (right)

Two years ago, my sister and I were walking through the hallways of Central High after school and we passed her chemistry teacher’s room. There was an after-school program being held there -- Detroit Food Academy. We joined that day and learned some basic knife skills. We really liked the program and even told a few other people about it and got them to join also. We learned to plan and prepare meals on a budget, played games, learned about food justice issues, and made our own product to sell at school.

Going to the DFA program was something I looked forward to, especially since I got to do it with my friends. One day I came in and I was told that we were going to be on the news, which was super exciting. I was kind of shy and didn't want to get interviewed, so you could only see me in the background, making granola bars!

That summer, I interviewed for a position in DFA's summer program. It was my first interview and though I was nervous, I got the position.The program was amazing! We made our own product (my group made popcorn) and it was sold at different farmers markets throughout the week. I sold product at a little garden in the middle of downtown, which was pretty cool. Once a week, I got to have an internship with Treats by Angelique and I learned that there's so much to starting a business than I ever thought about.

When the program ended at the end of the summer, we all cried. I joined again the next summer, and the school year after that.

Through DFA, I started working with Small Batch Detroit to sell Mitten Bites, a product created by DFA students. 

Currently in the DFA, we are planning on a pop-up restaurant and a trip to Chicago. Both will be in June and I'm super excited.

It's been an incredible experience. 


Learn more about Detroit Food Academy.

The Skillman Foundation and Detroit Children's Fund, an affiliate charitable organization of the Skillman Foundation, provide funding support to the Detroit Food Academy.