KENTWOOD, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4411, the $17.1 billion K-12 budget, into law on July 13, surrounded by students and faculty at East Kentwood High School. The bill accounts for the largest single-year School Aid Fund budget ever passed by the state, and included funding for 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms at $5 million, more than doubling the funding from $2 million in 2020-21.
10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms (10 Cents a Meal) is a state-funded program providing schools and early childhood education centers (ECEs) with matching incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The grant has gone from a $250,000 state pilot program in 2016 to finally being available to applicants statewide for the 2020-2021 school year, and this latest investment affirms the importance of 10 Cents a Meal in providing fresh, healthy, local fruits, vegetables, and dry beans for Michigan’s school and pre-schoolchildren.
Schools and early childhood settings are where children get up to two and sometimes even three meals a day. 10 Cents a Meal enhances those meals and also can support Michigan’s emerging local food system infrastructure which delivers products from local farms to local customers. The value of building that infrastructure, beyond creating more local jobs and providing the freshest of nutrition and flavor for children, became clear during the COVID crisis when national food supply chains faltered, said Diane Conners, senior policy specialist at Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which tested the 10 Cents a Meal model in northwest Michigan before it was adopted by the state.
The $5-million funding, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), is a testament the central strategic value of 10 Cents a Meal, Conners said.
“That this innovative program can be a part of this unprecedented investment in our children also is a testament to the resilience of school food staff and early childhood education centers, and all of those dedicated individuals who tirelessly work for the benefit of children across the state,” she said. “Healthy, locally grown foods help build the minds and bodies of our children, while the purchases support family farms and help to build the infrastructure of our local food supply.”
Groundwork Center continues to support the program through outreach and communications, along with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which provides additional technical support and evaluation. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also assists the program.