The Allen Neighborhood Center, located at 1619 E. Kalamazoo St., has been serving Lansing’s Eastside community for 14 years. The ANC is a nonprofit organization that works to develop healthy living, address food security and help the housing industry. Director Joan Nelson said 20 percent of the 48912 zip code, where the ANC aims to serve, doesn’t own a vehicle and 25 percent of the community is at or below poverty. “For 40 years now the Eastside has been a neighborhood that charts its own course,” Nelson said. “First there was the Eastside Summit, which promoted a healthy initiative and that kind of was how we morphed into the Allen Neighborhood Center.” The award-winning Allen Street Farmers Market connects residents with fresh produce from local farmers from May to October. Nelson said this was to eliminate the middleman between the farmers and the consumers, therefore making it more cost-effective. Also, the ANC was the first nonprofit organization to accept food stamps in Michigan. Within the next year many new projects are taking place, and Nelson said there will be a year-round market to offer indoor winter operation. Allen Market Place is in progress, which is a 5,000 square foot warehouse equipped with a licensed community incubator kitchen and food storage. “The latest program innovation of the Allen Market Place is going to build on food programming, and will reach a whole new level of impact,” Nelson said. “This will not only help the northeast quadrant, but it will have regional impact and expand our area of concern.” The ANC also takes great pride in their Hunter Park GardenHouse, an urban gardening demonstration and education facility. The Hunter Park GardenHouse offers many kid friendly programs that reach more than 100 kids in the Eastside ranging from 5-17 years old. The Youth Services Corps, a program for children 11-17, has recently started a Park Cart that provides healthy snacks in Hunter Park. “We try to do everything we can to be comprehensive and integrated in nutrition, fitness and gardening,” Nelson said of the programs associated with the Hunter Park GardenHouse. There are also adult workshops offered at the Hunter Park GardenHouse from their Community Supported Agriculture members. For more information about the ANC visit www.allenneighborhoodcenter.org
Katelyn Sweet is a senior at Central Michigan University studying Integrative Public Relations and Journalism.