Ingham County establishing healthy communities 2017

When you support MSU Extension, you are helping in indirect ways you may not realize. Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) is a non-profit organization that provides emergency food to individuals and families in need throughout mid-Michigan.

Community Outreach

The Health and Nutrition Institute of MSU Extension in Lansing partnered with the Greater Lansing Food Bank in 2017 to help cover the cost of cooking demonstrations. This has been economically helpful for Cooking Matters, Teen Cuisine, and snacks to support Show Me Nutrition lessons, while also benefitting community partners who are not involved in direct education series. This is just one of approximately 60 letters mailed to our office after transporting a healthy snack from the Greater Lansing Food Bank to Reo Elementary School. In the letter, an Reo student expresses feeling rejuvenated from the donated fruit and ready to take on their end of year assessment involving the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP).

Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program

MSU Extension partnered with the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program (IYEP) during their summer enrichment camp. IYEP is a program for all Indigenous youth and families of Ingham County, with a special focus on the Lansing Public School District. The program strives for community-building through traditional knowledge, empowering Indigenous youth through cultural awareness, emphasizing and assisting the importance of academics.

Instructors were specifically involved with teens (ages 11-16) to teach necessary skills so that they are empowered to cook meals at home and understand basic food safety principles to better prepare for adulthood.

Wild rice and berries are valued significantly among the tribal community, and we made sure to include recipes using these ingredients for their end of camp pot-luck celebration. The teens prepared a chicken and vegetable stir fry with wild rice, and served berries as a side dish. “Miigwetch” means thank you in the Ojibwe language.

Working together to address local food needs

Abigail (Abby) serves as the Community Food Systems Educator for mid-Michigan and is housed in the MSU Extension Ingham County Mason office. Her areas of focus include farm to school and farm to early care and education, local food policy councils, urban agriculture initiatives, food hubs, and racial equity in the food systems.

Many urban farmers, small farmers and community gardeners grow local food to supply communities, farm stands and farmers markets. These growers have interest in soil health and sustainable agriculture and are in need of education programming that fits the scale of their agricultural endeavors. Abby helps facilitate programming that increases their understanding of soil health and improves the environmental and economic sustainability of their operations, as well as improves the quality and quantity of their products.

With an eye toward our local schools, Abby has helped educate farmers, gardeners and farm to school teams on developing and sustaining farm to school programs increasing the amount of local food purchased and served in K-12 schools. She also supports the statewide Cultivate Michigan network, which helped institutions increase local food purchasing and creates new markets for mid-Michigan farmers. In addition, she has partnered with Northwest Initiatives, Weekend Survival Kits, and Lansing Public School District to coordinate the packing of 6 distributions of supplemental nutrition kits for Lansing School District students at risk of food insecurity.

As a result of this collaboration ten different Lansing area schools received a distribution of food on a twice a month basis. Special care was taken to ensure that food was culturally appropriate, and at each packing 80 students received a special “non-traditional” kit that aimed at meeting the dietary restrictions of children from immigrant and refugee families.

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