Equity and collaboration for resilient local food systems across the U.S.

More resilient and equitable local food systems nationwide is the focus of a three-year, $600,000 grant awarded to the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Large wholesale crate of freshly washed beetroots.
Red beets from Victory Farms in Michigan.

Contact: Rich PirogColleen Matts

East Lansing, MI – More resilient and equitable local food systems nationwide is the focus of a three-year, $600,000 grant awarded to the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

CRFS will foster new connections among local food systems stakeholders, provide training and learning opportunities and conduct two nationwide surveys. Racial equity and equitable collaborations are a core focus of this work.

“At the heart of all successful initiatives is a tightly woven fabric of collaboration–built intentionally and at the speed of trust–and a shared measurement system. We are confident that prioritizing collaborative relationships will yield more equitable solutions to the challenges of creating more resilient and sustainable food systems,” says Rich Pirog, Director of MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and co-PI on the grant.

In partnership with organizations across Michigan and the U.S., this work will include:

  • Providing opportunities for cooperative extension professionals to learn about racial equity and practice how to embed equity in their food systems programming across the U.S.
  • Fostering collaboration and building trust among food system educators across the land grant system (1862 land grant universities like MSU, 1890 land grants also known as historically Black colleges and universities, and 1994 land grants known as tribal colleges and universities) and Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities.
  • Supporting farmers and food entrepreneurs in marketing to institutions such as schools and hospitals, including in the Greater Chicago area.
  • Assessing the engagement of early care and education (ECE) providers nationwide in farm to ECE programming.
  • Measuring the scale of healthy food distribution by food hubs across the U.S. and their approaches to promoting racial equity.

The project team will engage land grant cooperative extension systems, public institutions with food service programs, ECE sites and food hubs. These entities are critical infrastructure to support resilient and equitable local food systems and are facing unique challenges during this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact of the pandemic, and heightened calls for racial justice.

Key partners include: the Racial Equity in the Food System workgroup, Chicago Food Policy Action Council, National Farm to School Network, and Wallace Center at Winrock International.

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The Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems advances regionally rooted food systems through applied research, education, and outreach by uniting the knowledge and experience of diverse stakeholders with that of MSU faculty and staff. Our work fosters a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the nation, and the planet by advancing systems that produce food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable. Learn more at foodsystems.msu.edu and connect on Twitter and Facebook: @MSUCRFS.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

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