Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Healthy, Michigan-grown food for Michigan’s youngest eaters

Contact: Meagan Shedd, | 517-432-4525 
Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) programs enrich young children’s health and lives through greater access to nutritious foods and a hands-on approach to food, health, and agriculture education. A one-year, $90,900 grant from the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) has been awarded to the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) to strengthen collaborations and increase awareness of, capacity for, and equitable access to farm to ECE.

MSU CRFS coordinates the Michigan Farm to Early Care and Education Network, a group of statewide partners who collaborate to improve access to healthy food, increase nutritional awareness and health outcomes, and support ECE providers as they work to improve children’s learning environments.

“Michigan is a national leader in local food and farm to school innovation, which gets healthy Michigan-grown food to Michigan’s school-aged children. This grant continues Michigan’s work to bring early care and education settings into this momentum, getting healthy Michigan-grown food to Michigan’s youngest eaters by engaging with the unique needs of early care and education settings,” says Meagan Shedd, Michigan project co-lead and assistant professor with MSU CRFS.

Michigan was one of 10 states and the District of Columbia that was awarded $90,900 each to strengthen their state-level farm to ECE initiatives for a one-year project period. These impactful plans were competitively selected from a pool of 21 applicants and include: Colorado, District of Columbia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington.

"There were many common themes detailed among the selected proposals, including the prioritization of equity across all farm to ECE activities. "We champion the vital work these states are undertaking and are excited to provide tailored technical assistance to help them succeed," says ASPHN's Emia Oppenheim, PhD, RD, LD.

Interest in farm to ECE has grown in recent years thanks to its innovative and effective approach. By networking local farmers and food producers with early care and education providers such as preschools, childcare centers, family based child care, and Head Start, farm to ECE programs stimulate local economies and provide young children with fresh, healthy food.
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) unites the knowledge of diverse food systems stakeholders with that of MSU faculty and staff to advance regionally-rooted food systems through applied research, education, and outreach. Our work fosters a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the nation, and the planet by increasing understanding of and engagement with systems that produce food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable. Learn more at

Founded in 1952, the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) is a non-profit membership organization that strengthens nutrition policy, programs and environments for all people through the development of public health nutrition leaders and the collective action of members nationwide. ASPHN’s membership is composed of more than 600 nutrition professionals located throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. ASPHN's vision is healthy eating and active living for everyone.You can find ASPHN on the web at and on Facebook at

This opportunity is supported by the CDC of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of cooperative agreement number NU38OT000279-03. This specific project, along with many other projects, is funded through this cooperative agreement that totals $3,960,000. One hundred percent of this project is funded by DNPAO/ National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) /CDC/HHS. The contents of this information packet are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, DNPAO/NCCDPHP/CDC/HHS, or the United States. 
CALL 517-353-3535
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Monday, November 9, 2020

Seeking full-time Michigan Good Food Fund Partnership Specialist


Please see details below for a full-time position opening at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The application deadline for the Michigan Good Food Fund Partnership Specialist position is December 7, 2020. Please help spread the word!


Be well,


Colleen Matts

(she, her, hers)

Farm to Institution Specialist

Coordinator, Michigan Farm to Institution Network

Core Partner, National Farm to School Network

Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems | 517.432.0310 | |


In response to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems team members are working remotely and refraining from travel or attending in-person meetings. Our response time may be a bit slower than normal due to family and community responsibilities. 





Michigan Good Food Fund Partnership Specialist

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) within the Department of Community Sustainability is seeking a full-time Specialist – Outreach, to support outreach and business assistance efforts to Michigan food businesses to increase good food access to low-income urban and rural communities. The position will support existing CRFS initiatives and help to develop additional programming capacity to meet deliverables of a USDA-funded Regional Food Systems Partnership project. Core partners are MSU ExtensionMSU Product Center, and the City of Battle Creek.

This position, as a full-time Academic Specialist in a partnership between CRFS and the MSU Product Center (PC), will support the Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF), the healthy food financing initiative of the Michigan Good Food Charter and a $30M loan fund that to date has provided over $12M in financing to good food businesses. The work includes leading efforts through partnerships within Battle Creek and the SW Michigan region's food systems initiatives focused on food and farm entrepreneurship, conducting outreach, and working one-on-one with entrepreneurs, especially focused on supporting entrepreneurs of color, connecting them to business resources and financing. They will support programmatic efforts aligned with the Michigan Good Food Charter in Battle Creek and SW Michigan, occupying an office in Battle Creek as well as on the MSU campus in East Lansing.

In partnership with the MSU PC, this position will also function as a PC Innovation Counselor, participating in MSU Extension's Community, Food, and Environment Institute. Responsibilities include conducting outreach and marketing educational programs for business development for agriculture/food sectors to advance value-added products and services in line with deliverables of the grant. Personal, written, and multimedia education as well as planning and implementation of virtual, local, regional, and statewide events, such as Making it in Michigan, is an integral part of the position.

High emotional intelligence, using a racial equity lens in all program and communication efforts, network building and facilitation, and organization skills are critical for success. The position will be responsible for striving to create a strong, equitable, and sustainable networked food ecosystem in partnership with local organizations and area businesses.

This position is an opportunity for a collaborative, network-oriented, resourceful candidate to join teams supporting local and regional agriculture and food economic development in Michigan.

Position expectations

  1. Provide business assistance to food and farm businesses in economically disadvantaged, rural and urban communities with a focus in Battle Creek and Southwest Michigan.
  2. Aid businesses working to increase sales and access to financing.
  3. Provide support to the Michigan Incubator Kitchen Network and to new Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs of color to start new businesses.
  4. Help build increased capacity within project partners to provide technical assistance to food and farm business owners.
  5. Contribute to collaboration among and across city municipalities, financial institutions, state agencies, and across MSU including via site visits across these groups.
  6. Along with the project partners, increase procurement of locally produced products by retailers, institutions, and distributors in the focused communities.
  7. Coordinate regional activities related to a recently funded USDA Regional Food Systems Partnership project. This will include facilitating business technical assistance to entrepreneurs, as invited.
  8. Lead or contribute to development of outreach and scholarly publications on learnings; distribute information of interest to networks.
  9. Contribute to MGFF, PC, and grant reporting on current funding and developing grant proposals to support new/continued work.
  10. Data and impact tracking for the partners that includes developing a working knowledge of the Center IC database system.
  11. Participate in CRFS, PC, and MGFF meetings, e.g., staff, strategic, and partnership meetings.
  12. Significantly contribute to relationship-building among and across city municipalities, financial institutions, state agencies, and across MSU including via site visits across these groups, to identify needs and how to best deliver business assistance to support economic development through food in the Battle Creek area.
  13. Contribute to success of CRFS and PC goals by providing business assistance to start up and expanding businesses, developing education to benefit food and farm enterprises including Making it in Michigan and other webinars and workshops, evaluation, and other team related duties.

Expected of all CRFS Academic-Outreach specialists

  1. Engage with relevant networks led by CRFS and/or partners and appropriate professional organizations.
  2. Document and share project work and accomplishments; maintain regular internal and external communication about project activities; write grant reports; develop and report on an annual plan of work.
  3. Actively participate in CRFS staff and strategic meetings and stay current on CRFS projects, activities, resources and publications as relevant to this work.
  4. Represent projects and CRFS in a professional manner in all forms of engagement and communication; and
  5. Help to foster, facilitate, and maintain the CRFS culture of anti-racism, trust, support, and accountability.


  1. Bachelor's degree required; Master's degree or comparable experience preferred. Prefer background in community food systems, business, economics, food marketing, agribusiness, community development, or a related field.
  2. Minimum of two years' experience working with agriculture/food enterprises.
  3. Demonstrated experience using an equity lens in food systems educational programming and working with multicultural and diverse populations.
  4. Demonstrated project leadership, management, and grant-writing experience.
  5. Proven ability to effectively and diplomatically engage and collaborate with diverse stakeholder groups such as project grantees, nonprofit, academic, and governmental organizations, and funders. Experience in network-building and group facilitation.
  6. Demonstrated resourcefulness and ability to problem-solve and think critically. Proven to self-direct and balance multiple projects simultaneously and to easily shift between working independently and as part of a team.
  7. Demonstrated strong written and verbal communications skills and experience using a broad range of communication tactics.
  8. Fluency in Spanish highly desired.
  9. High degree of knowledge of and comfort with using technology in completing job requirements including Microsoft Office suite; online search, file-sharing, and collaboration platforms; electronic survey software; and phone/web conferencing systems.
  10. Available to occasionally travel throughout the state and, less frequently, within the US, including overnight. Possession of a valid, current state driver's license required.

Status: This is a full-time, annual year, fixed-term position. Initial appointment will be for one year with annual reappointments contingent upon funding and performance.

Available: March 1, 2021, or when a suitable candidate is identified.

Application Deadline: December 7, 2020 11:55pm Eastern Standard Time or until a suitable candidate is identified.

Salary: Commensurate with education and experience

Reporting: Individual reports to Director, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

Required Application Materials

Qualified applicants should submit a) CV b) a cover letter describing your interest in, and qualifications for the position. Include a statement of your philosophy that specifically addresses the alignment between your goals and CANR's focus on excellence through diversity and inclusion, including summary of your experience with, or interest in working in diverse communities c) Names and contact information for three professional references.


If you have questions about the position or search process, please contact: Ali Farra, Please do not send application materials directly to Ali Farra.

Apply at Search for job #680888.

MSU Affirmative Action Statement

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. Michigan State University ( is a pioneer Land Grant institution based in East Lansing, Michigan that provides regional, national, and international leadership in basic and applied research, excellence in teaching, an emphasis on international engagement, and a strong extension program that partners with diverse stakeholders to bring science-based responses to social and environmental challenges.

The MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University is committed to achieving excellence by creating and sustaining an accessible and inclusive culture that values cultural and academic diversity. We are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. The CANR is particularly interested in candidates of all backgrounds who are committed to the principle that academic excellence is achieved through open access and proactive inclusion. 

Racial Equity Statement of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

CRFS recognizes that racism in the food system is historic, ongoing, and systemic. As we collaborate with partners to advance food systems rooted in local regions and centered on food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable, we emphasize racial equity as a foundation of our work. Learn more at




Monday, November 2, 2020

Exciting opportunities that support farm to school this fall

November 2020
Dear Michigan Farm to School subscribers,

As the days shorten and we prepare for the colder temperatures ahead, we hope you are able to take a few moments to reflect on all of the ways you have helped connect farms and local producers with children to increase access to local, healthy, affordable products.

We are grateful for all that you do and hope you enjoy the bounty of fall produce this season!
Michigan Expands 10 Cents a Meal Program
Funding for Michigan’s 10 Cents a Meal program recently increased from $575,000 to $2 million for the 2020-2021 school year. The program is now available to schools statewide and for early childhood education centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Community Food Champion from Michigan Announced
During Farm to School Month, the National Farm to School Network recognized 13 community food champions who go above and beyond to keep their communities fed. Debra Wade of the Baxter Community Center in Grand Rapids was nominated and selected for her work in farm to ECE. Congratulations, Debra!

Edible Flint’s Educational Farm Offers Opportunities for Youth
Once it is safe to reopen their educational farm space, Edible Flint is excited to partner with community organizations that offer youth programming. School groups and other organizations have used the farm's teaching and demonstration area to learn about gardening, produce, and more.

USDA Announces Fourth Round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program
Between November 1 and December 31, the fourth round of USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program will distribute an additional $500 million worth of agricultural products to families across the country.

MIFMA’s 2020 Food Access Year End Meeting
November 9-10

Each year, the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) gathers with farmers market managers and partners who work to increase healthy food access through Michigan farmers markets. Program partners, market managers and staff, and supporters of farmers markets that accept food assistance benefits can learn what is on the horizon for food access initiatives at farmers markets in 2021.

Annual CACFP Virtual Conference
November 17-18

Over 20 interactive sessions are available during the Annual Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Conference. Learn how to navigate pandemic challenges with CACFP, including changing waivers, closing facilities, socially-distanced meal service, and supporting staff remotely. Follow the Child Care Food Program Roundtable on Facebook to get daily updates about CACFP policy, resources, and the Annual CACFP Conference.

Local Food Purchasing at Michigan Schools: 2019-2020 Survey Results
Since the 2014-2015 school year, Michigan Department of Education has included two optional questions in School Nutrition Programs online application to survey school food service directors about local food purchasing. Of those who applied in the 2019-2020 school year, 58% of school food service directors responded that they purchased local foods for school food programs!

Webinar Recording: Food Justice is Racial Justice
During the National Farm to School Network’s recent movement meeting, they announced a new call to action for the farm to school community: By 2025, 100% of communities will hold power in a racially just food system.

Check out the webinar recording to learn more about the call to action and to hear from Karen Washington!
Recommended Reading and Resource List for Food Justice
This reading list was generated and compiled by National Farm to School Network and Equity Learning Lab. These resources can help those who are getting started on their food justice journey as well as those interested in digging deeper and expanding their knowledge.

CACFP and SFSP area eligibility map
2021 CACFP and SFSP Area Eligibility Data Now Available
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service recently shared participant area eligibility data for the 2021 Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The data set is available for download on the USDA’s open data site. You can also use the updated mapping tools to view area eligibility for these programs.
Bite-Sized Farm to School Tips for Families and Educators
Karen Spangler of the National Farm to School Network joined Jennifer Anderson of Kids Eat in Color and Chef Asata Reid of Life Chef, on Facebook Live to share tips educators and families can use for introducing kids to a wide range of foods and farm to school activities this fall.

Illustration of a child holding an apple
Resources for Hands on Education During COVID-19
Two resources developed by the Georgia Farm to ECE Coalition and Georgia Farm to School Alliance can help your early care and education site or school as you develop and implement gardening education, food education, and tasting demonstrations.

Considerations for Outdoor Learning Gardens and Community Gardens During COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer recommendations for outdoor learning gardens and community gardens during COVID-19. As communities increase learning options to provide healthy food, recreation, and stress reduction, these guidelines can help garden managers provide a safer outdoor learning environment.

State Licensing Scorecards on Obesity Prevention in Early Care and Education
State licensing scorecards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia include current regulations regarding obesity prevention standards identified by health organizations. The identified best practices can help states identify and implement strategies that increase access to healthy food in early care and education settings.

Funding for Student Meal Negative Balance Forgiveness 
Deadline: December 1, 2020

Only for the 2020-2021 School Year, the Michigan Department of Education is offering $1 million in total for reimbursement payments to public school districts, charter schools, and public-school academies who forgive all outstanding current student-meal negative balances. The application will go live by early November.

Questions regarding this grant opportunity can be sent to the Fiscal and Administrative Services Monitoring Team at or 517-241-5380.
2021 Farm to School Grant Program Applications Open
Deadline: January 8, 2021

The 2021 USDA Farm to School Grant application is now open for eligible schools, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, small- to medium-sized agricultural producers, and nonprofits. New for 2021, institutions operating the Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program at non-school based sites may apply for funding.

About Michigan Farm to School

Farm to School centers around efforts to serve local foods in school and early care and education settings. We share ideas, tools and resources to support a range of efforts, from school garden programming to farmer visits and field trips.

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