The Michigan Food Policy Council is eliminated – what does this change mean for Michigan good food?
By Jude Barry and Liz Gensler, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
The Michigan Food Policy Council (MFPC) is no longer in effect and its responsibilities have been consolidated within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). MDARD has formed an Interdepartmental Collaboration Committee (ICC) Subcommittee on Food Policy, a statewide action team to support food policy discussions. The transition to the ICC subcommittee and the many ongoing efforts across the state will continue to support advancement of good food in Michigan.
From MFPC to ICC Subcommittee
The MFPC was established by Executive Order in June 2005 by Governor Jennifer Granholm. The purpose of the council was to recommend programs and policies that enhanced economic growth through the state’s diverse agriculture industry, while cultivating a safe, healthy and available food supply for all Michigan residents.
Lori Yelton, a nutritionist in the Food and Dairy Division at MDARD and member of the Michigan Good Food steering committee explained the transition from the MFPC to the ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy as a shift into a more action-oriented stage in Michigan’s food policy development. “We’ve moved past policy recommendations and are now focused on implementation. Through the development of the ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy, we hope to have representation from a number of groups statewide that can bring policy discussions from their wider networks to the table.”
Auday Arabo, President and CEO of AFPD, an organization that represents smaller, independent retailers, also echoed a more action-oriented approach. “The ICC can now take action on issues which are important to food policy,” states Arabo, who was a member of the MFPC through the appointments of both Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Gov. Rick Snyder and is now a member of the ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy. “The ICC will not only work on implementing the final recommendations of the Michigan Food Policy Council, but also stands in a better position, in many ways, to further expedite policies that will continue to keep Michigan as one of the leaders in the country when it comes to good food policy.”
The MFPC was a key partner, together with the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (known as the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at that time), in developing the Michigan Good Food Charter in 2010. Since then, more than 350 organizations have pledged their support for the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and the Michigan good food movement has made great strides in network development and organizational engagement to advance healthy, green, fair and affordable food.
“The work of the Michigan Food Policy Council was instrumental in developing the Michigan Good Food Charter,” said Yelton. She points to policies enabling the growth of farmers markets in Michigan and for a healthy food financing initiative as examples of good food successes the MFPC’s work supported.
Governor Rick Snyder issued an executive order on December 14, 2014, a rescission of the 2005 order, eliminating the Michigan Food Policy Council. The decision to organize the ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy was aimed to better establish its charge within state government and unite work across state agencies and with the public to best achieve results.
An ICC subcommittee is comprised of representatives from multiple state agencies and other organizations. The new Food Policy Subcommittee is led by the MDARD and includes the departments of Education, Human Services, and Community Health, as well as representatives from organizations such as AFPD, the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the Michigan Good Food Steering Committee, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) and Michigan Food & Farming Systems.
Amanda Edmonds, Executive Director of Growing Hope and Mayor of Ypsilanti, MI, was very involved in the MFPC and stated, “The Michigan Food Policy Council was a unique opportunity for pulling together a multi-sectorial collaborative. I’m really looking forward to the ICC taking the years of work achieved by the Michigan Food Policy Council and the associated task forces and bringing them to life. I have high expectations and expect success.”
The ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy meetings are open to the public and interested individuals or organizations are invited to attend. The next meeting, on January 27, 2015 (details below), will include time on the agenda to explain the new subcommittee’s charge and answer questions about the transition from MFPC to ICC subcommittee.
Ongoing good food work and policy development
In addition to coordination efforts at the state government level, across Michigan organizations and individuals continue to foster strong local food systems through local food councils, networks and collective efforts on the Michigan Good Food Charter.
Local food councils drive food policy efforts. A number of food policy councils throughout Michigan have used the Michigan Good Food Charter as a foundation for their work. An example of recent change in food policy at the local level was the endorsement of the Washtenaw Food Policy Council’s 23 item agenda by the Washtenaw Board of Commissioners.
Representatives of local food policy councils across Michigan were recently interviewed to better understand the broader needs of the local councils. A recently-released report, “Advancing a Local Food Council Network in Michigan,” written by researchers Michaelle Rehmann (food consultant) and Kathryn Colasanti (CRFS), identifies a strong interest and potential for developing a state wide network of local food councils. To facilitate councils’ communication and create opportunities for uniting on issues of concern in multiple communities, including local, state, and national food policy, CRFS is seeking proposals for a coordinator for this network.
The current Michigan Good Food Steering Committee oversees progress on the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter. The steering committee is comprised of 20 representatives from organizations across the state. Its recent review of priorities revealed strong interest in accelerating good food policy initiatives to support the accomplishment of charter goals.
These and many other efforts by organizations and individuals throughout Michigan are advancing local food systems in the state. Whether the State’s vehicle for engagement takes the form of MFPC or ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy, the tireless work of numerous good food advocates across Michigan will ensure continued progress and a collective voice on good food priorities and policies.
For a full list of local food policy councils across the state and to become involved, please visit the Michigan Good Food website. In addition to resources on the charter and the agenda priorities, you can find information for signing the resolution of support for the Charter and ideas for getting involved in your local community. The Michigan Good Food Charter can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
The next ICC Subcommittee on Food Policy meeting details:
- Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2015
- Time: 9:30-11:30am
- To dial in: 877.873.8018 with access code 3298940
- Location: Constitution Hall, 525 W. Allegan St., Lansing MI 48933; 6th Floor - North Tower - Richard Van Deusen Conference Room