Fair Food Network received $5.1 million from the USDA to expand Double Up Food Bucks in Michigan. The grant, provided by the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants program, will be matched with private funds for a total of nearly $10.4 million.
One of the most well-documented and controversial aspects of the United States is its complicated relationship with food. Through years of unsustainable agricultural practices, the U.S. faces shortages of fresh food, particularly in impoverished communities. Combined with the prevalence of obesity, diet-related illness and reliance on government food assistance, the dearth of healthy, fresh food in these areas paints a bleak picture.
A new program that helps low-income families stretch their food dollars and buy local, too, promises nourishment for urban and rural areas.
One indicator is the crowd of mayors and city council members from around metropolitan Kansas City at a recent media event featuring results from the pilot Double Up Food Bucks program at four area supermarkets. They came to see what the privately funded match of federal nutrition assistance dollars at grocery stores could do for both people and places.
The Michigan Good Food Fund is a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund created to finance healthy food production, distribution, processing, and retail projects that benefit underserved communities throughout Michigan. It launched summer 2015 with a series of community events across the state. An original version of this op-ed by core fund partners was published in the Detroit Free Press and can be accessed here.
The State of Michigan continues to rank as the second most agriculturally diverse state in the country, with food and agriculture contributing $101.2 billion annually to the state's economy, a nearly 15% increase from 2010 to 2014.
Despite this abundance, too many Michigan residents lack reliable access to healthy food. More than 1.8 million Michigan residents — including 300,000 children — live in lower-income communities with limited access to the healthy fruits and vegetables they need to thrive.