Michigan Good Food Fund Launches to Grow Michigan’s Good Food Future
By The Michigan Good Food Fund
Lansing, Michigan. This week marks the launch of the Michigan Good Food Fund—a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund created to address the lack of healthy food access in rural and urban communities by supporting good food entrepreneurs across the state. This loan and grant fund will provide financing and business assistance to healthy food production, distribution, processing, marketing, and retail projects that benefit underserved communities across Michigan.
“The creation of the Michigan Good Food Fund is a game-changing initiative for individuals and groups focused on advancing Michigan Good Food Charter goals,” said Rich Pirog, Senior Associate Director of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. “The fund’s emphasis on investing in projects often overlooked by traditional financing sources, its focus on healthy food access, and its interest in funding retail enterprises as well as the rest of the food value chain, make the fund the first-of-its-kind. This is a great opportunity to empower Michiganders to advance the Charter and grow a healthier Michigan.”
The Michigan Good Food Fund addresses the significant need for healthy food access in both rural and urban communities. While Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation with food and agriculture contributing $101.2 billion annually to the state’s economy, more than 1.8 million Michigan residents—including 300,000 children—live in lower-income communities with limited healthy food access. The lack of access to affordable and nutritious food has serious implications for the health of our children and families—more than 30 percent of Michiganders are obese, the second highest rate of obesity in the Midwest region. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted.
Created by a coalition of food sector, nonprofit, higher education, government and philanthropic partners, the fund provides financial capital and business assistance to businesses that grow, distribute and sell fresh and healthy food that reaches low-income populations. This effort will increase access to healthy food, improve the health of all Michigan residents and drive economic development and job creation.
Core partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, fund manager Capital Impact Partners, and Fair Food Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems who will co-lead business assistance and pipeline development. The fund is modeled after the pioneering Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, the California FreshWorks Fund, and other similar successful statewide efforts. However, unlike other healthy food financing initiatives that primarily focus on retail efforts, the Michigan fund will work to create financial and social impact throughout the food supply chain by supporting efforts that include healthy food production, distribution, processing, marketing and retail projects. Its mission-driven approach will target those enterprises that are often overlooked by traditional sources of financing. Lending will be bolstered by business assistance to help entrepreneurs grow their ventures and build a pipeline of investment-ready projects.