Working Towards Food Systems Narrative Change and Power for Action

CRFS received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support shifting the narrative around food systems in the United States.

A person holds freshly harvested turnips while standing in the farm field.
Photo Credit: MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

To build upon existing initiatives that contribute to shifting the narrative around food systems, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) received a three-year $825,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

The primary focus for this project is to use experiences and networks built around trust to further collective food systems change and power building. To drive additional change, CRFS will examine, synthesize, and reflect on the most successful regional food system laws, policies, and innovations in the country. This step is critical to foster racial equity and power within the food system infrastructure. This includes extending support to the national scope of the 12 USDA Regional Food Business Centers, of which CRFS is the lead organization for the Center representing the Great Lakes Midwest. Therefore, it is imperative that CRFS engages in this process to effectively support their primary goal. 

“Identifying shared interests and acknowledging our diverse perspectives will enhance our united efforts for systemic change. This involves recognizing the common ground among various projects that empower CRFS to support everyone striving for accessible, equitable, fair, healthy, diverse, and sustainable food systems in the US,” Meagan Shedd, PhD, Assistant Professor of Farm to Early Care and Education at Michigan State University (MSU) and Outreach Specialist for CRFS, said. Shedd will serve as Project Principal Investigator (PI) and M. Jahi Johnson- Chappell, PhD, Director of CRFS, MSU Professor, and W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair, will serve as project Co-PI. 

As part of this project, CRFS will support a community of practice. This will explore why and how food systems efforts across the US have worked. CRFS will collaborate with regional food advocates and allies to deepen common language and collective understanding. Early care and education (ECE) sites, public institutions using food service programs, food hubs, land grant cooperative extension systems, and states developing food system plans are all fundamental leaders in this work. Through connecting with these community partners, this project will explore existing agri-food coalitions and the communities behind them. Partners like these will be integral to communicating transferable strengths and determining how specific context should influence strategy, narrative, and implementation for change.   

To support these community collaborations, CRFS will create a user-friendly advocacy roadmap for national and regional partners. This will allow stakeholders and policymakers to understand and collectively work towards shared goals. 

Throughout the project, CRFS will use the creation of accessible briefs, reports, webinars podcasts, peer-reviewed articles and interviews, to advance knowledge of strategies and policies for supportive food systems. Some examples of future products include the next iterations of the National Farm to ECE survey and the next edition of An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism in the U.S. Food System paired with new synthesis reports.  

For more information, reach out to Meagan Shedd, PhD at  

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 

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