Blog Archive

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Connecting Local Food to Area Institutions

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Connecting Local Food to Area Institutions

food & farming | February 27, 2018 | By Jennifer Schaap

Connecting Local Food to Area Institutions

A recent Cultivate Michigan Marketplace event in Petoskey brought together regional food suppliers and institutional food service buyers. 

How do you change a food system? It's a big challenge with a lot of energy behind it in Michigan as more people and organizations are supporting the local economy and community health. But small things can have a big impact, like creating a platform for growers and suppliers to meet institutional food buyers who are feeding a large slice of the population—our schools' students. 

In the fall of 2017, the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,  MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS), Ecology Center, MSU Extension, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, and The Flint Fresh Food Hub began planning four Cultivate Michigan Marketplace events across the state to provide that platform for local and regional food suppliers and institutional food service buyers to network and connect around local food. Cultivate Michigan is the local food purchasing and tracking campaign of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, led by CRFS.

The Petoskey area has held similar events to match restaurants with growers and food suppliers, like Farm to Chef in 2014 in Boyne City, hosted by the nonprofit Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology. Traverse City hosted a similar Meet the Buyers event at the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, where hospitals and other care facilities were matched with growers. Now, as local, seasonal fruits, vegetables and legumes are increasingly featured in area schools, the time was right to focus on school food service. Many area schools have received funding from the 10 Cents a Meal state grant to purchase Michigan produce, and, a resource for community and schools, has recently published "Tools for Farmers," guiding growers and food suppliers on how to work with schools.

"Farmers and food service directors are some of the busiest people," said Meghan McDermott, Groundwork's food and farming program director. "The work seems never-ending and they are always being asked to do more. It makes it tough to find time in the day to reach out to new contacts and develop new markets."

The recent Petoskey event on February 13 hosted more than 30 attendees, including farmers from Charlevoix, Emmet, Antrim, and Chippewa counties, along with buyers from dining halls, school food service, and senior centers in the region. 

"I was glad to connect with a local senior center," said an Emmet County vegetable grower. "I don't grow large quantities, and the scale they are looking for on their salad bar might be a good match for our farm."

Food service directors at the event were also able to share techniques with one another on how they serve healthier options and reduce waste. School food service staff from Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties, for example, compared strategies for serving milk—a rare opportunity, as they aren't usually in the same space to have these types of conversations. Peer-to-peer learning is a secondary but invaluable part of events like these.

"This event was an effort in getting the right people in the room at the right time so they could explore and find a good match in a low-pressure, mingling scenario," McDermott said. "New farmers are creating their businesses in the Northern Farms Foodshed (Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet counties), and we'd like them to stay and feed the community the most nutrient-dense, good-tasting, local food possible."

The next Cultivate Michigan Marketplace events are scheduled for Flint on February 28 from 4 to 6pm at the Flint Farmers Market, and Grand Rapids on March 1 at Blandford Nature Center. Ann Arbor hosted one on Feb 22 at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

The four events statewide Cultivate Michigan Marketplace Events were supported by the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, the Michigan Department of EducationMichigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Michigan Farm to Institution Network. To learn more about the Michigan Farm to Institution Network visit Institutional food service buyers can join Cultivate Michigan at

JEN SCHAAP  |  Local Food Policy Specialist
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

P    231-941-6584 x708
T   @grndwk

A  313 Howard St, Unit B  |  Petoskey, MI 49770
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018 Michigan Good Food Summit Call for Breakout Session Proposals



Call for Breakout Session Proposals




Share your skills & stories at the 

2018 Michigan Good Food Summit



The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is seeking proposals for breakout sessions for the 2018 Michigan Good Food Summit. 


This year's Summit will focus on amplifying under-represented voices across the food system as we continue advancing the Good Food Charter's vision of equity, sustainability and a thriving economy for all of Michigan and its people. 


For detailed submission guidelines and instructions, visit:


Submissions due Monday, April 30th, 2018 at 5pm EST


For questions on submission procedure, please contact Diane Drago at For questions on the content of your proposal, please contact Rachel Kelly at



Presented by


e us on Facebook  low us on Twitter  #2018goodfood












Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 16: "Food is Medicine" with Shane Bernardo



Please join us! Food is Medicine, a talk by Shane Bernardo - Storyteller, Healing Practitioner, Anti-Oppression & Food Justice Organizer


February 16, 2018

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

MSU International Center, Room 115


View and share the Facebook event page:


Shane Bernardo is a life-long Detroit resident active within the grassroots food justice movement in Detroit. He is a facilitator for Uprooting Racism Planting Justice, a board member for the Michigan Farmers Market Association, and a founding member of Swimming in the Detroit River, an environmental justice storytelling collective. Shane has also been awarded fellowships with the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the Detroit Equity Action Lab, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.


MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is proud to co-sponsor this event with:

MSU Asian Pacific American Studies Program

MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Asian Pacific American Student Organization




Andrea Weiss

Communications Director

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Road, Room 309 | Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 432-0283  

JOB OPENING: Groundwork Center Seeks Communications Manager (Traverse City, MI)

Are you passionate about building strong communities around local food, clean energy and transportation?

Groundwork is looking for a Communications Manager to help us advance our program goals. If you or someone you know lives and breaths our mission, is a talented writer and editor, has experience managing content across various platforms, and knows how to move a message - then consider applying here.  Applications will be accepted until noon on February 16th.

Groundwork is seeking a passionate communications professional to move our program and organizational messages to multiple audiences using all relevant tools – social media, print products, journalism, video and more. The ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of Groundwork's mission and programs, and a proven ability to manage multiple organizational priorities and large amounts of content, while effectively targeting messages to key audiences.

Groundwork's Communications Manager will:

  • Work with the program director, development director and staff to develop communications strategies, messages, and tactics to advance multiple projects and organizational activities;
  • Edit content (writing, graphics, video) for accuracy, readability, and message frame;
  • Disseminate program content into appropriate media venues (local, state, and national) to reach target audiences and elevate Groundwork's profile;
  • Grow Groundwork's social media presence and engage our audiences to interact with our work;
  • Direct the overall calendar of Groundwork communications tools (website, social media, print and e-newsletter) and other program content to hit necessary deadlines and meet organizational goals;
  • Manage a lean communications budget that includes contracts with outside vendors (designers, video production, photography, website development, etc.) for maximum effectiveness;
  • Provide communications support and training for program staff, including writing, editorial and social media support;
  • Oversee scheduling, design, production and mailing of print materials including fact sheets, event invitations, special reports, and donor mailings, other key organizational materials;
  • Manage press releases and media contacts, as necessary.

The candidate must demonstrate:

  • Strong management skills to prioritize multiple projects, budgets, and deadlines;
  • Excellent editorial skills to shape content for appropriate audiences and media;
  • Ability to work effectively with a team of content-producing policy specialists;
  • Knowledge of various media tools, especially social media;
  • Experience shaping public relations strategies and campaigns;
  • And, contract management experience.

A bachelors degree and at least three years experience are required.


Groundwork seeks the following qualities in successful candidates:

  • Strong commitment to Groundwork's mission and programs, including an appreciation for advancing complex systems change;
  • Strong interpersonal communication and teamwork skills;
  • Self-directed working approach and initiative;
  • Professional and pleasant demeanor;
  • Appreciation for small-town, rural living in a magnificent natural surrounding;
  • And, a sense of humor and positive outlook.

This is a full-time position with a competitive salary range, depending on experience. Full-time employees and their families qualify for Groundwork's health insurance coverage. They also receive retirement benefits, ample vacation, and schedules flexible enough to enjoy the wondrous forests, clean rivers, and the magnificent Great Lakes shoreline that distinguish our region.

To apply, click on the link below to submit a one-page cover letter, resume and references. Applications will be directed to Program Director Jim Lively. For any questions or correspondence about this job, please email and include "Communications" in the subject line. We are extending the deadline to accept applications until noon on Friday, February 16th.

Click here to apply.

Complete job description available at

Meghan McDermott | Food & Farming Program Director

T   @grndwk

 148 E Front St, Suite 301  |  Traverse City, MI 49684

Supporting Partner for National Farm to School Network
Service Site Supervisor for FoodCorps. Read more about our program on the FoodCorps Northern Michigan Blog!
Healthful Food for All Task Force Leader for Northwest Michigan Food & Farming Network
Groundwork Center Fellowship Program Coordinator
Join us at & Farm to School Northwest Michigan &
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Job Posting: Part-time data management and data analysis support

Greetings! The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is hiring part-time support for the creation and maintenance of data management systems and data analysis and reporting.


This position will support multiple research projects, including the Farm to Early Care and Education national survey and the National Food Hub Survey. The application deadline is February 16, 2018.


Full description is below. Please help spread the word!


Professional Aide
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

The Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) is seeking a part-time hourly professional aide to support the creation and maintenance of data management systems and data analysis and reporting for multiple research projects including the Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) national survey and the National Food Hub Survey.

The Farm to ECE survey, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network is in its third iteration, and is intended to estimate the number of children reached by farm to ECE activities and determine trends in growth from the previous survey iterations for the general public and key stakeholders. The National Food Hub Survey, conducted in 2013, 2015, and 2017, in collaboration with the Wallace Center, represents one of the most comprehensive data sets on food hub operations to date.

Status: Part-time hourly at $20 per hour, up to 20 hours per week, as needed

Available: March 1, 2018, or as soon as possible after that date, with continuation dependent upon performance and program funding

Application Deadline: February 16, 2018 or until suitable candidate is identified

Reporting and location: Position reports to Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist, and successful candidate will work as a team with additional CRFS staff depending on the research project. Work will be conducted primarily at CRFS offices on MSU main campus in East Lansing, MI.

Job Summary

  • Develop data collection tools, including surveys, and assist with dissemination and distribution
  • Perform data collection using survey software, online dashboards, and other platforms as needed
  • Maintain integrity of data collected, including troubleshooting and communication with participants and project partners through direct phone and email communication and follow up with users
  • Complete required Institutional Review Board training for data management, and maintain high ethical standards and confidentiality in researching and reporting information
  • Analyze, interpret, and report data collected through online dashboards, surveys, and other data collection efforts through written and online reports on a regular basis, as needed, including manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications and shorter summaries for general audiences
  • Attend regularly scheduled project and team meetings, and regular check-ins with supervisor and/or project team members to develop and/or refine data collection, analysis and reporting plans and timelines
  • Represent projects and CRFS in a professional manner in all forms of engagement and communication; and
  • Help to foster, facilitate, and maintain the CRFS culture of anti-racism, trust, support and accountability.


  • Bachelor's degree required, Master's degree preferred
  • Experience with quantitative and qualitative data collection, analysis, interpretation and reporting
  • High degree of knowledge and proficiency with technology to complete job requirements including:
    • Excel, SPSS and/ or other statistical analysis software
    • Electronic survey software (Qualtrics preferred)
    • MS Office Suite
    • Online search, file sharing and collaboration platforms
    • Phone/web conferencing systems
  • Demonstrated strong written and verbal communications skills, and experience using a broad range of communications tactics
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze data and communicate findings to general public and academic audiences
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work well in teams and effectively and diplomatically engage and collaborate with diverse stakeholder groups
  • Demonstrated resourcefulness, self-motivation and ability to problem-solve and think critically
  • Ability to self-direct and balance multiple projects simultaneously and to easily shift between working independently and as part of a team
  • Content knowledge of and experience with food systems, including farm to school and/or farm to institution programs is preferred
  • Available to travel occasionally within the state, as needed

To apply, please submit by email (with subject heading Professional Aide) a cover letter with your availability, resume or CV, and contact information for two references to:

Meagan Shedd, PhD
Farm to ECE and K-12 Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems


MSU Center for Regional Food Systems Mission
CRFS engages the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in applied research, education and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems.

Michigan State University
MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer and is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and persons with disabilities. Michigan State University employment opportunities are open to eligible/qualified persons without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, or family status.




Andrea Weiss

Communications Director

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Road, Room 309 | Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 432-0283  

2018 Michigan Good Food Summit - Save the Date!






October 22, 2018 - East Lansing, MI






This October, the Michigan Good Food Summit will amplify under-represented voices across the food system as we continue advancing the Good Food Charter's vision of equity, sustainability and a thriving economy for all of Michigan and its people. 


Whether you're a food consumer, grower or buyer; line cook, server or chef; advocate, educator or policymaker - join us in East Lansing to connect with others advancing good food and equity in Michigan! 

Breakout session proposals will be accepted through


For questions on registration and sponsor/exhibitor information, contact 

Diane Drago at or (734) 747-2746.




Presented by 


e us on Facebook  low us on Twitter  #2018goodfood


MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, 480 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48824


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Groundwork ISO FoodCorps Service Member

Applications are due March 15, 2018.

Groundwork is seeking a FoodCorps Service Member with the following qualifications:

 Must have experience working with children, experience in a school setting is a plus.

• Must be able to relate well to youth, teachers, administrators, parents, and other youth facilitators.

• Possess some knowledge of and experience with the food system and/or agriculture.

• Must have excellent organizational and communication skills.

• Must be reliable, accountable, and a team player.

• Must have access to reliable transportation.

• Passionate about strategic systems change, and interested in all of Groundwork's programs. 

• Knowledge of indigenous history and culture is a bonus.

In exchange for your service, you'll receive:

 $18,250 living stipend paid out in biweekly increments over your 11-month term

 $5,920 AmeriCorps Segal education award upon successful completion of your term of service, which can be used for additional schooling or to pay off student loans

• Student loan deferral or forbearance upon approval from your lender

• Health insurance if you aren't already covered

• If you have children, you might be eligible for childcare reimbursements

• Numerous training and professional development opportunities

• The experience of a lifetime!

Media Advisory

Contact: Jennifer Schaap, Groundwork local food policy specialist

Jen@groundworkcenter.org231-941-6584 x 708


FoodCorps, a national organization that connects children in limited resource communities to healthy food in school, is accepting applications until March 15for its seventh annual class of AmeriCorps service members. The selected community leaders will dedicate one year of full-time, paid public service in school food systems—teaching hands-on lessons in growing, cooking and tasting food, collaborating with food service staff to steer students toward the healthiest options in the cafeteria, and working alongside school administrators and teachers to foster a schoolwide culture of health.

"What we feed our children in school—and what we teach them about food there—shapes their health and success over a lifetime," said Curt Ellis,FoodCorps co-founder and CEO. "By joining FoodCorps, you will have a chance to do something incredibly important: connect children in your community to healthy food, and give them the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive."

FoodCorps addresses the root causes—access and connection to healthy food—by partnering with schools and communities to address these issues in the place where our country's most vulnerable children eat the majority of their calories. School food programs provide a significant portion—in some cases up to half—of a student's daily calories. The 2014 "Framework for Healthy Communities in Northwest Michigan" prepared by Networks Northwest, reports that "about a third of residents living in the region are obese (Body Mass Index greater than 30) and another one-third are overweight", and those conditions are even higher for those in poverty. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in our region is higher than the state level, and particularly for those in poverty.

Boyne Falls Public Schools is among the schools in northwest Michigan that have teamed with the Groundwork Center to host FoodCorps service members over the past two school years.

"Boyne Falls Public Schools food service has a strong commitment to offering healthy, local food to our students," said superintendent Cynthia Pineda. "Our partnership with the Groundwork Center has helped our food service program reach new heights by supporting our school cafeteria, in-class lessons on healthful foods, and even revising our district wellness policy."

Current FoodCorps service member Lindsay Hall has worked at Boyne Falls over the past two school years and at Pellston Public Schools in 2017-18.

"Serving for FoodCorps has been an incredible experience," said Hall. "I've grown personally and professionally, but more importantly, I've grown with the people, students and community I serve. I am proud to have promoted positive change through education and hands on experience in the place I call home, and feel connected and engaged in a completely new way."

In its first seven years, FoodCorps has brought important progress to the schools it serves, demonstrating measurable change to children's eating habits and helping the schools it partners with become healthier environments. Hundreds of AmeriCorps service members have introduced new healthy recipes into cafeterias, built and taught in hundreds of school gardens from New Mexico to Connecticut, and engaged thousands of volunteers and parents in their efforts. In addition, FoodCorps provides valuable skills and training to the service members who go through the program, setting them up for careers in school food, public health and education. The benefits of AmeriCorps service include a $18,250 stipend, health care, training, and a $5,920 education award.

This year FoodCorps seeks up to 230 men and women, nationwide, with a passion for serving their communities, a commitment to social justice and an interest in jumpstarting their careers. Applications are due March 15. Emerging leaders interested in getting more information should visit

JEN SCHAAP  |  Local Food Policy Specialist
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

T   @grndwk

A  313 Howard St, Unit B  |  Petoskey, MI 49770
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.