“10 Cents a Meal” Report: State pilot expands successfully
The Michigan Good Food Bite is working to share a diversity of voices across the food system. This week’s bite is submitted by Diane Conners, a champion for good food for the foundation of community health.
By: Diane Conners, Senior Policy Specialist, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities
Last May, michiganfood.org featured “10 Cents a Meal”, a program that the state Legislature subsequently adopted as a pilot project to provide schools with match incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and dry beans. In March of this year, a report on the pilot was released to the Michigan Legislature. It highlights many successes.
“10 Cents a Meal” aims to improve nutrition and promote healthy eating habits for an estimated 48,000 students in 16 grant-winning school districts. It also helps Michigan farmers and the related local food business economy. Inspired by one of the 25 recommendations of the Michigan Good Food Charter, “10 Cents a Meal” launched in 2013 as a pilot in northwest Lower Michigan. Seven school districts in three counties took part in the local pilot program, purchasing 25 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and dry beans from 36 farms.
In June of 2016, the state Legislature funded a $250,000 pilot project to expand the local pilot from the three counties in northwest Lower Michigan to 10 counties there (Michigan Prosperity Region 2), and to include 13 counties in west Michigan (Prosperity Region 4). The pilot’s $210,000 in match funding provided up to $420,000 for Michigan’s agricultural economy and healthy foods for students.
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) submitted its mid-year report on this pilot to the Michigan Legislature this March. The report, “10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms 2016-2017 Legislative Report,” shows that the program helped schools to offer students 49 different Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and dry beans. These purchases catalyzed sales for 86 different farms and 16 additional businesses such as processors and distributors in 28 counties.
On Wednesday, March 29, the Senate Appropriations K-12, School Aid, and Education Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, took the first step to continue the pilot for the 2017-2018 school year by including funding in the Senate proposed budget. The House, however, did not include funding. It voted on Tuesday, March 28, the day after the report was released to the Legislature, and it is unclear how many legislators had the opportunity to see the report. There are still many steps before the budget is finalized in the Senate and House, including negotiating over differences such as whether or not 10 Cents is included. Legislators are heading into spring break, which often means more time to talk with constituents in their districts.
Stories from food service directors, educators, farmers, local food business people and others impacted by 10 Cents a Meal fill the 18-page MDE report.
The state partners in this pilot project include: the Michigan Department of Education, which administers the program; Networks Northwest, the Prosperity Region office in Region 2, which inputted and analyzed invoice data with the collaboration of the Grand Valley Metro Council in Prosperity Region 4; the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which administered monthly food service director surveys and provided trainings; Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which conducted key stakeholder interviews; and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which assisted in food service director trainings and resources.
The following 16 school districts are part of the state pilot project: Boyne Falls Public, Frankfort-Elberta Area, Glen Lake Community, Leland Public, Manistee Area Public, Northport Public and Traverse City Area Public schools in northwest lower Michigan; and Coopersville Area Public, Forest Hills Public, Grand Haven Area Public, Montague Area Public, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System, Muskegon Public, Oakridge Public, Ravenna Public and Whitehall District schools in west Michigan.
Resources that may be of interest include:
- 10 cents per Meal for School Kids & Farms poster
- The Groundwork Center 10 Cents a Meal program
- Michigan Farm to School
- Michigan Farm to Institution Network
- Cultivate Michigan, the local food purchasing campaign of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network