ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
For 21 years, the Detroit Free Press has named its restaurant of the year. But with so many restaurants permanently closing across the state, this year, the paper did something different. They're recognizing chefs and restaurant operators who give back. They call them food fighters.
EDERIQUE GOUDIA: Pre-pandemic, 39% of Detroiters were food insecure.
SHAPIRO: Chef Ederique Goudia is one of the Free Press' food fighters.
GOUDIA: So now we go, you know, once the pandemic hit, of course, that number heightened dramatically. And so that's really where our next-door neighbors, you know, our parents, our sisters, our friends are now food insecure as well.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Chef Goudia's work in the organization Make Food Not Waste helped feed 6,000 families last Christmas. Since this past Thanksgiving, they've fed almost 100 families per week. Chef Goudia says that work fed her.
GOUDIA: These meals were something that people could be proud to put on their tables and share with their families. This isn't some, you know, food, again, that is the scraps. This really should be done with some dignity.
CORNISH: Since then, Chef Goudia helped launch Taste the Diaspora, an effort to introduce Detroiters to traditional African diasporic cuisines and address food insecurity. She has a particular focus on the term food desert.
GOUDIA: Deserts means that nothing can grow, sustain life. Detroit has extremely fertile soil and as a matter of fact, Detroit has over 1,800 farms and gardens all over the city. The proper term is food apartheid.
SHAPIRO: Put another way...
RAPHAEL WRIGHT: We have a food swamp. You have on every corner a convenience store, liquor store, gas station, fast food spot. That's food, but could you live off of that every day?
SHAPIRO: Raphael Wright is another co-founder of Taste the Diaspora, and he's opening a new neighborhood grocery in the east side of Detroit. He says his motivation for both these projects is much bigger than the bottom line.
WRIGHT: I've been saying it since we started - you know, money is cool, but change is better.
CORNISH: In the meantime, Chef Goudia is also looking toward the future.
GOUDIA: This work is about making that impact and saying and showing people that look just like me that you can do it, too.
SHAPIRO: That's chef Ederique Goudia and Raphael Wright, co-owners of Taste the Diaspora in Detroit.
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