Last week, dozens gathered at Shed 5 of Detroit's Eastern Market for the official launch of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund created to address lack of food access in rural and urban communities by supporting good food entrepreneurs across the state.
According to the Michigan Good Food Charter
, good food is healthy, green (sustainable), fair (no one was exploiting during its creation), and affordable.
The fund meets two distinct needs for urban areas like Detroit: the need for healthy food access and the need to drive economic development within the local food supply chain, from cucumber farmers to jam makers, farm stands to grocery stores, processors to distributors, and any entity in between.
The fund is not only available for financing, but will provide technical assistance and counseling for businesses serving disadvantaged communities.
Clearly, the time is right for the Michigan Good Food Fund here in the Motor City. Detroit’s food scene has kept pace with the city’s burgeoning farm and garden movement. Detroit Food Lab
has 140 members that participate in training and activities to help cultivate their individual food business start-ups. Between the city’s pop-up-shops-turned-restaurants, internationally envied urban gardens, and many small producers making big waves, the momentum is growing.
Yet, despite the growth and promise in farming and food production in Detroit, many of these high-quality fresh and processed goods don’t make it into low-income households.
What’s happening in Detroit is happening statewide. 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. Wayne County has the highest food insecurity rate among U.S. counties, at 20.9 percent.
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.
“The Michigan Good Food Fund will be an essential component of our work to provide accessible healthy food to everyone in Michigan, especially vulnerable communities,” said Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network
president and CEO. “The fund will also be an incredible opportunity for food entrepreneurs, harnessing capital, and growing strong, local economies.”
Fair Food Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems
will co-lead business assistance and pipeline development. Other core partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
and fund manager Capital Impact Partners
Source: Meredith Freeman, program director at the Fair Food Network
Writer: Melinda Clynes, Michigan Kids project editor
This story is part of a series of solutions-focused stories and profiles about the programs and people that are positively impacting the lives of Michigan kids. The series is produced by Michigan Nightlight and is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read other stories in this series here.