Mark Coe, a former farm manager in Manistee County, concluded that farms would benefit if sales of their products could be extended into the winter months. In late 2013, he teamed up with Brandon Seng, director of food programs at Goodwill Industries Northern Michigan, to develop Farm to Freezer in Traverse City, which freezes Michigan-grown produce into a branded product while training workers in job skills.
The program is now spinning off as an independent business with a second location in southeast Michigan. They plan to grow from six employees to 30 in those two locations in five years.
Farm to Freezer hired two part-time employees just to keep up with institutional packing needs this fall and is working with about 30 farmers now.
“Today alone I had two farmers call me to see what kinds of needs we had that they could grow for us. We are creating opportunity for growers.”
- Mark Coe, Farm to Freezer
*Michigan’s 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms is a successful state pilot that provides schools with up to 10 cents a meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Farm to Freezer works directly with schools applying 10 Cent funding into the winter months.
Originally a $250,000 state pilot in prosperity regions 2 and 4, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder expanded 10 Cents A Meal for the 2017-2018 school year to also include prosperity region 9 with an increased budget of $375,000. The is one in a series of stories documenting 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms.