Good Food Life: Lori Yelton
What is your role at MDARD?
LY: I am a nutrition consultant for the MDARD. As a consultant I provide leadership and consultation to MDARD and stakeholders regarding nutrition, food, agriculture products, and food safety. I work on a variety of committees that have programs related to obesity reduction, increasing access to local healthy food sources for Michigan residents, and coordination of government, non-government and industry groups to help grow Michigan’s agriculture regional and local food economy.
How does MDARD work toward the goals of the Good Food Charter?
LY: MDARD supports the MI Good Food Charter goals in multiple ways by working with state and local agencies, colleges and universities, and industry groups to address issues and remove barriers outlined in the charter. In addition to its regulatory role, the department provides marketing assistance to the food and agriculture sector, serving as a catalyst to new and expanding businesses, and attracting and retaining jobs and capital investment in our state.
Examples include MDARD’s Value Added /Regional Food Systems grants to support Food Hub development in 2012; and, in 2014, an additional $875,000 to facilitate processing, aggregation and distribution of Michigan crops and livestock.
MDARD is currently working with the Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) to provide training for small and mid-size farms on food safety and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.
As MDARD’s Nutritionist, I serve on several committees that support access to healthy local foods, including the State Farm to School workgroup, the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, and Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan’s Healthy Food Access Committee and Food Safety Committee, .
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
LY: I enjoy working with such a variety of people in the many areas of food and agriculture.
What opportunities do you see for moving toward the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?
LY: The continuation of growth of food and agriculture in Michigan and the support needed to produce healthy and safe foods from farms to processing to retail through the farm bill, and other grants.
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience with working toward the goals of the Good Food Charter that you’d like to share with others?
LY: Working together allows the Good Food Charter to succeed with its visions and goals, such as the growth of food hubs and farmers markets in Michigan.