Local Food Policy Specialist
Jen Schaap studied Industrial Design at University of Michigan, which gave her an intimate understanding of how things get made, how things get done. But studying modern mass production and ideas of planned obsolescence also enhanced her appreciation of the opposite: craft, community, and things that endure.
“I walk to work, which I love. I advocate for affordable housing and smart towns and clean energy. I'm so impressed that the City of Petoskey now offers renewable sources for our utility bills!“
Jen is the point person in Groundwork’s Petoskey office, pushing forward with our lead initiatives there, like improving access to fresh local foods, expanding farm to school programs and finding new ways to get more money in the pockets of farmers.
Food programs in the area’s schools are changing, she notes. Helping speed change is 15-plus years of farm to school ideas incubated and nurtured in the Grand Traverse area; that’s experience to borrow and learn from in the northern counties. “You can see cafeterias in Emmet, Antrim, and Charlevoix counties transforming, students getting excited about eating real food, and an understanding of where food actually comes from,” Jen says.
Beyond her efforts at Groundwork, Jen plays bass guitar and sings—expressions of elemental connections and fundamental rhythms of the world. Her work at Groundwork shares a similar ethos. “I have a deep respect and admiration for farmers who are stewards of the land and are feeding our communities,” she says.