We’re in the middle of summer for Michigan kids, it’s prime produce season and farmers markets across the state are bustling, providing fresh food to families and underserved neighborhoods.
With more than 46 percent of Michigan students eligible for free or reduced lunches, the summer months can mean food scarcity for many.
Food assistance by the numbers:
- Nearly one in seven Michiganders receives SNAP benefits.
- 30 percent of young children are eligible for food assistance.
- More than 50 percent of young children receive assistance through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
The Kids Count in Michigan Data Book recently shared these stats and recommended stakeholders “support and promote programs that increase access to fresh food and reduce food insecurity.”
Programs and initiatives to address food insecurity in the summer months as well as year-round continue throughout Michigan.
Double Up Food Bucks, developed by the Fair Food Network, facilitated by the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL), and supported by more than 25 CMF members, matches $1 to $1 on SNAP dollars spent on fresh produce at farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores to ensure Michigan communities have access to healthy food. The program began as a pilot program in Detroit.
“The Double Up model was seeded in Michigan and our home state continues to be a proving ground for innovation,” Oran B. Hesterman, president and CEO of Fair Food Network said.
Double Up Food Bucks just released its 2017 reports showing its growth across the country and in Michigan.
The 2017 national snapshot of Double Up Food Bucks shows:
- It’s currently in 22 states and more than 575 farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores.
- To-date there’s been more than $4.4 million in SNAP and Double Up sales across the nation.
- About 3,380 farmers have also benefitted from the program, receiving financial incentives, as it increases farmer sales and “offers new direct and wholesale marketing opportunities.”
- The program is in more than 100 grocery stores nationwide.
- In Michigan, produce sales increased 34 percent at 12 grocery stores participating in Double Up Food Bucks.
Double Up Food Bucks is also being used in Flint to increase access to fresh food and mitigate the effects of lead exposure. The Flint Farmers Market has made major moves to ensure Flint families can eat healthy.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) recently shared that a Flint Fresh app will be released soon to provide easy access to services through the Flint Farmers Market and another bus will be added to the Flint mobile market program. BCBSM also provided a grant to the market to provide wraparound education and health services at specific market stops.
In addition to Double Up Food Bucks, the Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund, recently marked a major milestone of $10.5 million in statewide good food investments. The Michigan Good Food Fund provided financing to six food businesses across the state to help increase access to healthy food. The fund is a collaborative effort between Capital Impact Partners, Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with additional lending support from Northern Initiatives.
In Grand Rapids, Kids Food Basket, a nonprofit, is providing about 3,500 meals for kids this summer at 25 different sites around the city. It’s one of many programs aimed at battling food insecurity and farmers markets are a major component statewide.
These are just some of the major programs and initiatives underway that are aimed at making sure the 46 percent of Michigan students who rely on free or reduced school lunches don’t go hungry in the summer months and strive to provide their families fresh food year-round.
Read the latest about Double Up Food Bucks.
Learn more about the Michigan Good Food Fund.
First posted July 10 on Council of Michigan Foundations.