Nothing brings people together like food.
The Feed The City Tour in Michigan is evidence of that, where the brainchild between the Saginaw Community Foundation and regional organization Bridge The Gap visits cities throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region to serve food and provide a place for bonding between community members.
“Bridge the Gap is all about forming positive relationships between law enforcement and the community,” says Ayiteh Sowah, a board member at Bridge The Gap. “Feed The City Tour is one of the many ways we aim to provide safe, fun, and family-friendly opportunities to strengthen local ties and relationships.”
“We offer a day for folks to come out and enjoy some free food with neighbors and police officers – everyone has a great time.”
In fall 2022, the tour visited Saginaw, Bay City and Midland, where local police officers handed out tens of thousands of servings of food purchased by Bridge The Gap for an afternoon. Meals are purchased mostly from local restauranteurs and in many cases offer a chance or families to experience a restaurant that may otherwise be unaffordable.
“We had every kind of cuisine imaginable—everything from Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, and soul food to an order of a thousand McDonald’s burgers,” says Sowah. “It’s grown significantly since 2016 to 2018, when we used to only serve pizza.”
Sowah notes that some attendees and families visited all three of the food tour stops, getting exposure to other communities and restaurants beyond just their own.
“If the tour started at 1 p.m., we would see a lineup by 1:05 p.m. The community interest and attendance has grown significantly from 2021 to 2022.”
In recent months, Enbridge sponsored the Feed The City Tour through a $50,000 grant to Bridge The Gap as part of our commitment to building sustainable communities near our operations. Enbridge also supported the tour in 2021 with a $25,000 donation for Saginaw and Midland food tour stops.
Enbridge’s Candice Braddock, a Michigan-based community engagement advisor, was on hand to help serve food and observe the activity-filled day at the Saginaw stop of the tour in 2022.
Apart from hosting food tours and other activities like basketball games and face painting, Bridge The Gap supports enrolment into the Delta College Police Academy by offering scholarships throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region.
“Since 2018, we’ve sponsored 23 men and women to the Delta College Police Academy to become police officers,” says Sowah. “We have a diverse group in the academy, which ties right into the Feed The City Tour and reflects the extreme diversity in our communities, too.”
As for a 2023 edition of the Feed The City Tour, Sowah says the organization will have “people knocking on our door” if it is not on again. The tours are becoming a community staple.
“To see these families come out for a day and watch them eat, smile and be merry with each other and their local law enforcement is incredible—it reminds me of Thanksgiving.”