University cooks programs at Downtown Market


The second floor of Downtown Market in Grand Rapids contains more than 16,500 square feet of education space, including classrooms and an incubator kitchen. Photo via

A local university is the newest tenant to make itself at home at the Downtown Market.

Grand Valley State University said that it’s leasing a 350-square-feet space at the market for its faculty and students working on food and nutrition, as well as other health and community-related projects.

A variety of GVSU programs will be able to take advantage of the space, including accounting, marketing, hospitality, nursing, social work and new programs like dietetics, said Jon Jellema, associate vice president for academic affairs.

Jellema said the downtown space offers several benefits to students and faculty: being an exciting space with lots going on in the area, the proximity to different downtown neighborhoods and being close to the downtown campus, while still being separate from it.

GVSU projects are likely to include collaborations with Downtown Market vendors and Heartside neighbors.

GVSU will officially begin working out of the space in 2014.

“GV has a tradition of service learning and research projects across the region that benefit both the neighborhoods or groups and the students and faculty,” Jellema said. “Those will continue. Downtown Market provides a convenient hub for such activities.”

Jellema added that GVSU is “recognized for its work in in sustainability,” and its students are “interested in working with the Downtown Market and Fulton Street Market to glean leftover healthy food at the end of the day and distribute it to neighborhoods where there is not much healthy food available.”

Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market, said health and nutrition education are a “core part of our mission.”

“Students and faculty working and researching at the market will bring energy and additional foot traffic to the space,” Fritz said.

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