New initiatives and resources in the Michigan Good Food Movement
By Terry McLean, Community Food Systems Educator, MSU Extension
810-244-8530; 810-938-8818 (cell)
The Michigan Good Food Charter is a roadmap for a food system that is rooted in local communities and centered on good food. This policy initiative aims to promote policy changes that will advance “good food” in Michigan – food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.
The Michigan Good Food Charter outlines six goals to advance the vision by 2020.The Good Food Movement is building momentum across the state in 2014, and recent activities at the third Michigan Good Food Summit this fall, along with the release of several resources and announcements of new initiatives are positive signs of that progress. The Michigan Good Food Charter is coordinated by staff at the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems educators support the Michigan Good Food Charter, through their work based in communities across the state.
In October, over 400 people from across the State of Michigan gathered to participate in learning, sharing, and networking opportunities to support the goals of the Charter at the Michigan Good Food Summit. Food producers, processors, distributors, retail and wholesale workers, food service directors, educators and advocates were in attendance. Attendees experienced opportunities throughout the day to both celebrate successes in working toward the Michigan Good Food Charter goals and agenda priorities, and to connect and plan with others to develop our state’s good food future.
Success stories that highlighted change in the goals of the Charter were shared that day in short video stories. Photos of individuals were taken to capture how they were involved in the good food movement, and the breadth of support represented in their pictures produced a good reflection of all the goals of the Charter. Photos and videos that captured the energy of the day can be found at the Michigan Good Food Charter website and Facebook page.
Progress in the Michigan Good Food movement was documented in the October 2014 Report Card distributed at the Summit, which also announces a new MI Good Food Charter Shared Measurement Project to develop strategies for the further assessment of progress towards the six goals of the charter over the next 15 months. The goal of this new initiative is to identify, prioritize and agree on a set of shared metrics to be gathered throughout the state to provide a more complete understanding of the impacts of the good food work conducted across Michigan.
Another new initiative to support the Michigan Good Food Movement is the MI Good Food Fund, a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund intended to benefit underserved communities throughout Michigan. It plans to support projects across the food value chain, including processing, distribution, marketing, retail and other food entrepreneurship projects. The goals are to expand access to healthy food and drive economic development and job creation. This initiative is grounded in the Good Food Charter and intends to serve as its financing vehicle to accelerate progress against its goals. These goals include providing 80% of Michigan residents with access to affordable, healthy food with 20% coming from Michigan by 2020.
The new Michigan Food Hub Network Case study, just released this week, outlines the role of the Michigan Food Hub Network as a learning community that helps Michigan food hubs meet their business goals by working with public and private partners, which further supports the Michigan Good Food Movement. A food hub is a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products. Food hubs can create opportunities for developing effective and efficient ways to supply healthy food to low-income communities, which is a key element of the food access goal in this local food systems work.
Other recent reports released from the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems further highlight the local food movement in Michigan and across the United States: Valuing Michigan’s Local Food System (in collaboration with the MSU Center for Economic Analysis) and the Local Food Movement, Setting the Stage for Good Food , which provide unique insight into the history and economic value of local foods. The purpose of the latter document is to provide a brief history of the U.S. local food movement and its link to good food within the context of related movements of food access and health, food justice, environment, food sovereignty, and racial equity through a unique, comprehensive Good Food Timeline found in the center of the document. The evolution of the local food movement, both in Michigan and nationwide, advances the “good food” concept – food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.