The Michigan Department of Education has announced that it is accepting applications for the 10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms, a state-funded grant providing matching incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The program is open to school districts (public, public school academies, or private), and non-school sponsors of USDA Child Nutrition Programs such as residential childcare institutions (RCCIs), and child care centers participating in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
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. Grantees say that 10 Cents a Meal provides them much-needed flexibility to try new items with children and engage them in healthy eating within tight food service budgets.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the $17.1 billion K-12 budget into law in July. The bill accounts for the largest single-year School Aid Fund budget ever passed by the state, which included funding for 10 Cents a Meal at $4.5 million*, more than doubling the funding from $2 million in 2020-21.
The grant has gone from a modest regional pilot program in 2016 to finally being available to applicants statewide for the 2020-2021 school year, and this latest investment from the state affirms the importance of 10 Cents a Meal in providing fresh, healthy, local fruits, vegetables, and dry beans for Michigan’s schoolchildren.
Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), chair of the Senate K-12 and Michigan Department of Education appropriations subcommittee, served as a key champion of 10 Cents a Meal and navigated the program through the budget process. “The 10-cents-a-meal program started right here in my hometown of Traverse City,” said Sen. Schmidt. “I’ve long supported the program and fought for it to be included in every budget I’ve worked on.”
The $5-million funding is a testament to the central strategic value of 10 Cents a Meal, said Diane Conners, senior policy specialist at Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.
“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.”
The 10 Cents a Meal grant application opened Monday, August 2, 2021 and will close on Monday, August 16th. 10 Cents a Meal is a competitive grant. Scoring of applicants prioritizes districts and ECEs that demonstrate the greatest ability to procure, prepare, and promote Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes, and plan for related educational activities.
*Edit 5/2/22: The 10 Cents a Meal budget is $4.5 million, corrected here from the previously published $5 million due to an error in the state’s budget language.
Diane Golzynski, Michigan Department of Education, [email protected]
Nathan Medina, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, [email protected]
Colleen Matts, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, [email protected]