Published: Aug. 27, 2014

MSU receives two grants to support ‘good food’ in Michigan

Contact(s): Layne Cameron Media Communications office: (517) 353-8819 cell: (765) 748-4827 Layne.Cameron@cabs.msu.edu, Rich Pirog Center for Regional Food Systems office: (517) 353-0694 rspirog@msu.edu, Liz Gensler Center for Regional Food Systems office: (517) 353-1914 gensler@msu.edu

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded two grants to Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems to give more Michiganders access to “good food," which is defined as:

  • Healthy -- It provides nourishment and enables people to thrive
  • Green -- It was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable
  • Fair -- No one along the supply chain was exploited for its creation
  • Affordable -- All people have access to it

The support totals about $6 million over four years, which will fund research and outreach to advance equity, sustainability and strong economies through good food in Michigan.

The first grant focuses on expanding access to fresh food, advancing local food purchasing and supporting Michigan farmers. The project will build on existing work assisting schools, school districts and early childcare programs with farm-to-school initiatives, which connect students with local foods and farmers and build understanding of where their food originates. It also will expand the Hoophouses for Health program, which increases families’ access to produce and enhances local farmers’ production capacity.

“This grant will help us expand the role of schools, early childcare and education programs, and other institutions as good food access points,” said Colleen Matts, CRFS farm-to-institution specialist. “In partnering on the Hoophouses for Health program, we can help Michigan children, especially the most vulnerable, have better access to good food in their homes, their communities and their schools.”

Diane Hoye, co-owner of Ohana Gardens, in metro Detroit, and a new Hoophouses for Health participating farmer, is excited about being a part of the program.

“So many people have been stopping by and asking questions about hoophouses,” she said. “Hoophouses are needed because of the economic conditions in the community; they are breathing new life into Detroit.”

As part of the programs, growers who use hoophouses also will be encouraged to provide food directly to school food service programs and early childcare and education programs.

The second grant focuses on bolstering the Michigan Good Food Charter. Numerous individuals and organizations have worked to implement the charter’s vision to promote equity, sustainability and thriving economies through good food in Michigan.

“The beauty of the Good Food Charter is that it provides a strategic framework that helps us align with other efforts going on across Michigan,” said J.R. Reynolds, Good Food Battle Creek coordinator. “Collectively, we’re working to promote equity and sustainability within our community’s food system, which in turn can help drive our economy.”

A key goal of the charter is 20 percent by 2020, meaning that 20 percent of the food consumed in Michigan will come from Michigan producers by 2020, said Rich Pirog, CRFS senior associate director.

“This grant will assist us in working with the many organizations and individuals who have signed on to help reach or surpass that 20 percent target, as well as in tracking progress made on the charter goals and better connecting those engaged in good food work across the state,” he said.

The project also will build capacity among new and established food hubs – businesses or organizations that manage the aggregation, distribution and marketing of, typically, local or regional food products – to increase the supply of good food in low-income communities.

“CRFS is an important partner for the Kellogg Foundation,” said Linda Jo Doctor, W.K. Kellogg Foundation program officer. “Our goal is to develop a stronger infrastructure for an equitable food system so Michigan’s vulnerable children, families and communities will benefit, which could not be accomplished without the center’s leadership.”

MSU is helping more Michiganders gain access to “good food” – food that is healthy, green and affordable. Courtesy of MSU

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Volodymyr Tarabara, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at MSU, has been named a Fulbright Scholar. He will use the funding to conduct research on water quality control in the Republic of Georgia.
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