Three Michigan institutions reach milestones for local food purchasing

Friendship Centers of Emmet County, West Ottawa School District, and Zeeland School District received Cultivate Michigan awards in recogniti

December 4, 2019

LANSING, MI – Three Michigan institutions are well on their way to sourcing 20% Michigan foods by 2020. They were recognized with Cultivate Michigan awards on November 20, 2019 at the Michigan Farm to Institution Network Gathering at the Lansing Community College West Campus.

Cultivate Michigan is a statewide local food purchasing campaign that helps farm to institution programs grow. To be considered for awards, Cultivate Michigan member institutions must have submitted food purchasing data for at least three of four quarters in 2018 and reached at least 5% Michigan purchases of their total food spending. Awards are given out for 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% Michigan food purchases.

One senior program and two school districts are the second set of Cultivate Michigan awardees:

  • Friendship Centers of Emmet County for 10% local food purchasing.
  • West Ottawa School District for 15%.
  • Zeeland School District for 15%.

Each institution will receive a framed poster and a financial award for food service equipment to help with their continued local food purchasing efforts.

These are the first Cultivate Michigan awards for West Ottawa School District and Zeeland School District. Both districts also participated in the 10 Cents a Meal program in the 2018-2019 school year. 10 Cents a Meal helps schools to purchase and serve more Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and dry beans. It is a state-funded match incentive reimbursement program. At this time, 10 Cents a Meal remains unfunded for the 2019-2020 school year.

This is the second Cultivate Michigan 10% award for Friendship Centers of Emmet County.

“We are happy that our Farm to Senior Program is sustainable and are looking for ways to increase our purchase of fresh local food,” said Christine Scott, Health Services Director at Friendship Centers of Emmet County. She added, “I appreciate the good work you [at MFIN] do with institutions to promote Michigan-grown foods!”

All three institutions sourced local foods through broadline and dairy distributors and a food hub. Two also purchased directly from a farm and farm cooperative.

To date, 79 institutions and 9 other businesses have joined Cultivate Michigan. These institutions include early care and education programs, K-12 schools, hospitals and health care systems, colleges and universities, and senior facilities. More than two-thirds of participating institutions (54) are schools and school districts. Members also include 13 hospitals and health systems and three publicly funded universities.

“Cultivate Michigan awards are a great way for us to recognize leaders in the ongoing work to get more Michigan foods to Michigan institutions,” said Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist at the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and coordinator of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN), which manages Cultivate Michigan.

The network and the Cultivate Michigan campaign launched in 2014 to support institutions in reaching the 20% by 2020 goal set forth by the 2010 Michigan Good Food Charter. This week, some of its more than 650 members and supporters gathered to celebrate, network, and inform the future direction of MFIN and Cultivate Michigan beyond 2020.

“After five years, the Michigan Farm to Institution Network has great energy and momentum behind it. We want to learn from our members, especially food service professionals, farmers, and food suppliers, how we can continue to grow and best serve them in the coming years,” Matts said.

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