Blog Archive

Monday, November 29, 2021

How a network helps Michigan institutions source and serve local food

Photo credit: Matt and Emily Martin
How a network helps Michigan institutions source and serve local food
The story of how the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) has connected food supply chain players from farmers to eaters is described in a new case study commissioned by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. Since 2014, MFIN has brought together farmers, food processors and food suppliers with institutions like schools, early care and education settings, colleges, and hospitals to produce, source, and serve local foods.
The Michigan Farm to Institution Network Past, Present, Future includes data about network activities and quotes from interviews with network members. The report demonstrates the value of the network and how it developed to support institutions in meeting the 2010 Michigan Good Food Charter goal that Michigan institutions source 20% of their food products from Michigan growers, producers and processors by 2020.

Individuals with a wide range of interests – including institutional food service providers, farmers, food processors and suppliers, food systems practitioners, entrepreneurs, community organizers, and students – can use this case study to learn how networks can create a space for learning, sharing and working together to help farm to institution programs grow more widely.

Six themes frame the case study:
  • Launch and Growth 
  • Leadership and Engagement 
  • Strategies 
  • Impacts 
  • Challenges 
  • MFIN Looking Forward 
Explore and share the summary and full report with your networks!

For more information, contact:  
Colleen Matts,
Lilly Fink Shapiro,  

This case study was commissioned by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and authored by an evaluation team from the University of Michigan. This work is funded by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since its launch, the work of MFIN has been supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, the Michigan Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Americana Foundation. 
Please help us spread the word
Forward this message and share on social media. Tag @MSUCRFS and @michiganfarmtoinstitution on Facebook and @MSUCRFS and @cultivatemi Twitter.

How a network helps get local food to eaters in Michigan’s schools, early care and education settings, colleges, and hospitals. Don’t miss this just-published story of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network from @MSUCRFS and @cultivatemi.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Fwd: Annual Legislative Report Reveals Impacts of Michigan's Innovative Farm To School Program

The 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan Kids & Farms 2020-21 Legislative Report has been published by MDE and we wanted to share it with you. You can find the PDF report HERE

Feel free to share the following release with your constituents on FB at the following link:

Additionally, check out our detailed interactive map detailing this year's 2021-22 grantees:

Please reach out for any additional questions or concerns. There will likely be a second round for applications in early 2022, so we will stay in touch!


Nathan Luis MedinaPolicy Specialist, 10 Cents a Meal

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

Annual Legislative Report Reveals Impacts of Innovative Statewide Farm To School Program


LANSING, MI (Nov 23, 2021) - Michigan students and young children were were introduced to up to 32 new types of vegetables and 14 new types of fruit during the last school year thanks to the state's expanded 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms (10 Cents a Meal) program, according to the annual legislative report recently published by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

10 Cents a Meal program matches what schools spend on Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes with grants of up to 10 cents per meal up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and dry beans. In 2020-2021 -- the period covered by the report --  the program was available for the first time to schools statewide and also to early childhood education centers. Grants were awarded to 143 school districts and early childhood sites, serving nearly 440,000 children in 50 of Michigan's 83 counties.

The program had been operating in pilot regions for four years before the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Whitmer funded it at $2 million for the statewide expansion, up from $575,000 in the last two pilot years. Legislators expanded it yet again for the current 2021-2022 school year, more than doubling it to $5 million. New grantees hailed from the metro-Detroit region to the Upper Peninsula, both regions that had not been included during the pilot years. 

"Providing healthy meals for children and supporting our state's growers is a win-win for Michigan," State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said in the report. "The 10 Cents a Meal program helps meet a Top 10 state strategic education goal of improving the health, safety, and wellness of learners. I want to thank the legislature and governor for expanding the program to benefit many more communities across our state."

The purpose of 10 Cents a Meal is two-fold: To improve daily nutrition and eating habits for children through the school and early childhood setting, and to invest in Michigan agriculture and related local food business economy. The report, required by the legislature annually, analyzes purchasing data, evaluation survey results, and stakeholder interviews and offers a wealth of information about the state's farm to school incentive program. 

According to the report, 58% of grantees reported that local food purchasing helped their food service program during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite COVID-related challenges that food service programs faced beginning in 2020, a whopping 81% of current grantees indicated they would apply for 10 Cents a Meal again.

According to the report:

  • 84% of grantees said 10 Cents a Meal allowed them to offer more local fruits to students and children. 

  • 73% and 71% of grantees, respectively, said it increased fruit consumption and vegetable consumption among the students and children they serve. 

  • 79% reported that it allowed them to offer more local vegetables. 

  • 65% said it helped them to identify new Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes that are accepted/eaten by the children they serve.

The School Nutrition Association of Michigan, the professional organization for the state's school food service staff, provided a statement applauding the expansion of 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms. 

"This important program helps school food service staff nourish our children so that they are really ready to learn," the association said. "It also helps our food service professionals to invest in Michigan's economy and strengthen local food supply chains, which we have found--as a result of COVID--to often be more reliable than national food supply chains. Locally grown food for Michigan's children makes all the sense in the world."

The potential for market expansion for Michigan's farmers and food processors and distributors is also evident. One distributor reported that 10 Cents a Meal spurred it in 2021 to contract with farmers for 50,000 pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, compared to just 5,000 pounds the previous year. The distributor created a new product called the "Michigan Medley" to meet the increased demand from 10 Cents a Meal food service needs.

Additionally, grantees from across the state reported that 10 Cents a Meal gave them the opportunity to strengthen existing relationships with farmers or local food suppliers and to create new ones. According to invoices, grantees purchased 63 fruits, vegetables, and legumes grown by 109 farms in 40 counties, and impacted an additional 39 businesses such as distributors, processors, packers, and food hubs.

"Providing healthy, nutritious, wholesome, and affordable food is the top priority of Michigan farmers," the Michigan Farm Bureau said in a statement for the report. "It's why they invest their time, money and sweat equity every day in the fields growing crops, fruits, and vegetables and in the barns caring for their dairy herd and livestock. The 10 Cents a Meal program further enhances agriculture's ability to meet the nutritional needs of our communities, especially children. We look forward to continued growth and opportunities to contribute and collaborate as we feed our consumers and enhance our agriculture industry."

Schools, early childhood education centers and other eligible grantees who participate in federal Child Nutrition programs typically use their existing federal dollars for food purchasing as their match funding, meaning the program leverages federal dollars already being spent in Michigan.

Find the full 2020-21 legislative report and those from previous years here:

MDE is assisted in the program by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which provides expertise on Michigan-grown products; the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which conducts monthly food service director surveys and other evaluation support and trainings; and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which conducts stakeholder interviews and provides outreach and communications support, including production of the legislative report. 

To learn more, please visit

For the list of 2021-22 award grantees, visit


Program Contacts:

Wendy Crowley, Michigan Department of Education,

Nathan Medina, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities,

Colleen Matts, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems,

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.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Farm to ECE Procurement Pilot Expansion

Dear ECE Provider:  


Looking to continue or expand farm to ECE at your site? Apply for a farm to ECE Procurement Pilot grant!  


PURPOSE of Procurement Pilots 

Farm to ECE procurement pilots will help ECE staff obtain locally-grown, healthy foods from a variety of sources – farmers, farmers markets, food hubs and/or distributors - to serve in meals, snacks, and/or educational activities. Through these pilots, we seek to develop collective local food sourcing solutions driven by the unique needs and goals of each community. One example of this is creating clusters of institutional buyers to increase buying power, in part for the benefit of smaller ECE sites. This is an expansion of the existing procurement pilot, funded by the Farm to ECE Implementation Grant (FIG). All ECE sites in Michigan are encouraged to apply. 


BENEFITS of Participating 

Staff from ECE sites (partners) who choose to engage in these procurement pilots will receive:  

  • Up to $500 mini-grant (see specific funding parameters with application); 

  • Access to online self-assessments using Go NAP SACC and the opportunity to set and track goals for their site; 

  • Farm to ECE training on local food procurement, with professional development credits available through the MI Registry; 

  • Technical assistance from a team comprised of community and state partners; 

  • Invitations to networking events and community meetings; and  

  • Farm to ECE resources, including a local food procurement guide.  



Eligible ECE sites include family-based sites, child care centers, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Early Head Start, Head Start, private preschools and/or public preschools within a school district. . Sites must provide care for children ages birth through age five. Sites may not be limited to after school care. Programs do not have to participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) but may receive training and technical assistance to do so as part of the participation in the pilot.  


Visit our website for more information and to download the application. If you have questions, please email Meagan Shedd at Applications are due by 5 pm Eastern Time on Monday, November 22, 2021. Please note late applications will not be considered due to shortened timeline for implementation. 


This opportunity is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of cooperative agreement number NU38OT000279-04. This specific project, along with many other projects, is funded through this cooperative agreement that totals $3,245,000. One hundred percent of this project is funded by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO)/ National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) /CDC/HHS. The contents of this letter and other FIG materials 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. 


Meagan K. Shedd, PhD
Assistant Professor, Farm to Early Care and K-12 Education
Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University
Department of Community Sustainability | College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
480 Wilson Rd, Room 309 | Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824-1039
517.432.4525 | |