Feeding Families & Supporting Small Farmers

MEC recently launched a promising program designed to address hunger and obesity while supporting sustainable, local agriculture.

In 2017 MEC partnered with local farmers to deliver “veggie boxes” to families in need. Our theory was simple: families will eat better when they have easy access to fresh, local produce.

The program is similar to community supported agriculture (CSA) programs where local farms assemble a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables for an annual fee, except in our model families in need don't pay. We secured foundation funding to pay farmers for their produce and cover the cost to deliver veggie boxes to farmers’ markets and other central, public-transit accessible locations. We were able to provide 120 families in Detroit, Lansing, and Ypsilanti with fresh fruits and vegetables for twenty weeks.

CSAs often require customers to pay upfront, but federal food assistance programs only allow two weeks worth of spending -- rendering those in need unable to pay the upfront cost to participate in a CSA. We launched our CSA pilot program to demonstrate the benefit of improving access to local produce in the hopes that our example can influence federal policy.

The program has been a win-win for Michiganders. We are feeding families who lack access to fresh food while also strengthening local economies and supporting sustainable farming. Our goal is to expand the program; we have the farmers, food and the need -- the only missing ingredient is funding.

 

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More About the Program:

This initiative is just one part of MEC’s work with Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan, a coalition of over 200 organizations dedicated to reducing childhood obesity through strategic policy initiatives while working with state government leaders. Working with the coalition helps MEC leverage statewide partnerships and resources and increases our chances of policy success.

Resources:

  • Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan - a coalition dedicated to reducing childhood obesity in Michigan through strategic policy initiatives
  • MI Good Food - a roadmap for a food system that is rooted in local communities and centered on good food.
  • MI Food Hub Network - providing development and leadership expertise for food hub communities of practice in Michigan.