WHY we work
Our vision is a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the country, and the planet through food systems rooted in local regions and centered on Good Food: food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable.
Our mission is to engage the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in applied research, education and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems.
HOW we work
We join in MSU’s pioneering legacy of applied research, education, and outreach. We do this by catalyzing collaboration and fostering innovation among the diverse range of people, processes, and places involved in regional food systems. Working in local, state, national, and global spheres, our projects span from farm to fork, including production, processing, distribution, policy, access and more.
WHO we are
We value leveraging broad perspectives and disciplines to realize our vision, so there are two ways for MSU faculty and staff to engage in our work: as staff or as an affiliate. Nearly 70 MSU faculty and staff from 17 units, including eight colleges, AgBioResearch, and three MSU Extension institutes are formally affiliated with the center. Our 20 staff members are based in either the Department of Community Sustainability or the Department of Horticulture – the latter largely through MSU Student Organic Farm.
WHAT we do
We believe in collective impact: the idea that complex social problems are best solved when organizations in diverse sectors actively commit to a common agenda. To this end, we function as a collective impact “backbone organization,” convening partners across the state to promote food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.
- Partner across Michigan to advance the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter.
- Educate new generations to lead regional food systems research and practice.
- Cultivate and support communities of practice around emerging regional food systems issues and opportunities.
- Increase the visibility of and access to MSU resources that support regional good food systems.
- Expand the resource base for regional food systems applied research, education and outreach.
- Develop farmers and farms for regional food systems.
- Expand and coordinate engagement of MSU faculty and staff in interdisciplinary regional food systems applied research, education, and outreach.
The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems was established in 2012 to advance regionally rooted food systems through applied research, education, and outreach.
The Center was established to build on the foundation started by the C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, which was created in 2003. This growth was made possible by generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the MSU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.
Today, we continue to partner with people and organizations advancing healthy, green, fair, and affordable food systems.
We convene networks, support collaboration, and provide technical assistance, research, and information. We both respond to emerging needs in the good food value chain and proactively work to establish new trends that meet changing contexts.
We collectively acknowledge that Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. In particular, the University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. We recognize, support, and advocate for the sovereignty of Michigan’s twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Michigan State University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.
For the extended land acknowledgement, visit the American Indian and Indigenous Studies page.
Our nine-member Advisory Board includes:
- Terri Barker, Economic and Community Development Analyst, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Douglas Buhler, Director of MSU AgBioResearch and Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Michigan State University
- Jeff Dwyer, Director of MSU Extension and Senior Associate Dean of Outreach and Engagement, Michigan State University
- Meredith Freeman, Senior Program Officer, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation
- Gail Imig, Consultant
- Karen Lehman, Director, Fresh Taste
- Shiloh Maples, Consultant
- Ricardo Salvador, Director and Senior Scientist of the Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Kathryn Lynch Underwood, Senior Planner, City of Detroit City Planning Commission