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.
Food systems are more resilient and inclusive when we collaborate. We actively work with community partners, food systems stakeholders, and public and private organizations to achieve our collective goals.
Communities are powerful and effective visionaries for their local and regional food systems. There is greater power for innovation and systemic change when diverse partners create a shared vision that is based on a common understanding of complex problems and common goals for addressing these problems.
A sense of place meaningfully connects communities to the local and regional food system through the cultural, social and economic practices of food production, distribution, sales and consumption. We strive to honor all experiences of place in order to achieve a more just and equitable food system.
We support shifting power to systems that make healthy food accessible by promoting local ownership of community assets, such as businesses and land. Systems that allow people to make decisions for themselves and their communities are our focus.
Read more about CRFS’s commitment to racial equity in our Racial Equity Statement.
We value and build trust with our partners and the communities we work with by holding space for reflection and feedback and by being transparent, reliable and committed to one another. We follow through, we invite feedback, and take responsibility for how our work and actions affect our colleagues, partners, stakeholders, funders and the University.
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
Our team is made up of outreach specialists, faculty, and administrative staff based in the Department of Community Sustainability in Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Members of our team are recognized as leaders and innovators in developing healthy, green, fair, and affordable food systems in Michigan and nationwide.
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
- Dave Ivan, Director, MSU Extension Community, Food & Environment Institute
- 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
MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and CANR Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has awarded the Center for Regional Food Systems a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Gold Badge in recognition of the center’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in 2019 and 2020. Learn more about CRFS’s commitment to racial equity.