Michigan food for Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems is coordinating networks that are helping to feed Michigan’s families and communities and support Michigan’s food businesses as they weather the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Michiganders eat. The problem is not food scarcity. There is excess food in some parts of Michigan’s food supply chain. The problem is disruption to Michigan’s usual food ways.
Grocery stores can hardly restock shelves quickly enough to keep pace with demand for shelf-stable and frozen foods. Schools and early care and education sites, which provide meals that thousands of Michigan children depend upon, are closed. Restaurants are now takeout or delivery only. Emergency food programs like food banks are hustling to meet greater demand as people shelter in place without their usual income.
The people of Michigan who work in food businesses, nonprofits, state agencies, local governments, and schools are working hard to feed our children and communities all while protecting the workers who make the food system run. Michigan State University is helping.
Michigan has food system networks that for more than a decade have been advancing a shared vision of a food system that provides all Michiganders access to safe, healthy, and affordable food. These networks, many of which are coordinated by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and actively engaged with MSU Extension, are buzzing with activity to adapt to the food system challenges we face.
Caterers are figuring out how to offer heat and eat meals for households. Farmers markets are looking for online sales platforms so that they can create drive-up pickup options. Food distributors and farmers are connecting with community organizations so that they can sell directly to consumers. Local governments are developing policies to keep grocery store workers safe from infection. School food service directors are learning how to work directly with farmers, rather than depending only on distribution companies, so that they can continue to provide meals despite school closures.
Adapting swiftly depends upon connecting the right people and having accurate information. Trusted relationships are key to creating solutions quickly. Michigan’s food systems networks help make this happen. They email the latest guidance, host information-sharing calls, and keep in touch with partners who understand the issues and what responses are needed.
The networks coordinated by Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems include:
- Michigan Local Food Council Network
- Michigan Farm to Institution Network
- Michigan Food Hub Network
- Michigan Incubator Kitchen Network
The members of these networks are people and organizations who are concerned about feeding Michigan’s families and communities and helping Michigan’s food businesses weather the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are Michiganders taking care of Michiganders. Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems is honored to help these heroes feed our state.