The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has awarded the Flint Community Schools district a $170,000 grant as part of the second round of the agency’s 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms (10 Cents a Meal) program.
The application process reopened in January 2021 after an initial round of schools and early childhood education centers (ECEs) were announced in December 2020, bringing the total number of grantees to 149 and hailing from across the entire state for the first time. The Flint schools award is the single largest grant awarded for the 2020-21 grant cycle.
“Providing healthy meals for children and supporting our state’s growers is a win-win for Michigan,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “The 10 Cents a Meal program helps meet a Top 10 state strategic education goal of improving the health, safety, and wellness of learners. I want to thank the legislature and governor for expanding the program to benefit many more communities across our state.”
10 Cents a Meal was recently in the national spotlight after being highlighted by Michigan’s Child Nutrition Director Dr. Diane Golzynski in her testimony before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Delta Township).
10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms is a state-funded program providing schools and early childhood education centers with match incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
"Food is like medicine, with healthy nutrition as one of the most powerful ingredients for strong and successful children,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, associate professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and director of MSU-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative. “I am thrilled that with 10 Cents a Meal Michigan farmers will be feeding fresh food to our Flint school kids."
School food service directors say the 10 Cents program allows them the flexibility to try new foods with students and that the local produce is more flavorful and often available in varieties that children love, such as multi-colored carrots. Dr. Golzynski, at the national hearing, said the exposure to healthy local produce has increased children’s “acceptance and excitement” about eating well, to the point of parents saying children now request the produce grown by their local farmers at home. She stressed the importance of good nutrition for children to show up ready to learn.
Asked for comment about 10 Cents a Meal, Flint school officials echoed those thoughts.
“At Flint Community Schools, we remain Flint Focused by providing wrap-around services and resources we know are critical to each scholar’s success,” said Superintendent Anita Steward. “Our families are at the heart of the district and we have seen first-hand the impact of healthy meals and nutritional foods.”
First round Genesee County grantees included: Genesee Intermediate School District ($10,000); Davison Public Schools ($1,000), and the YMCA of Greater Flint ($3,500).
“This program provides opportunities for our dedicated local farmers to do business with schools right down the road, ensuring nutritious meals are available for students throughout the school year,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “It’s how our kids’ food should be: healthy and locally sourced.”
Since Governor Whitmer signed the budget into law in October of last year, 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms has gone from a 2016-2020 pilot program to finally being available statewide. Funding was increased from $575,000 to $2 million and from pilot regions to schools across the state, including Detroit and the Upper Peninsula for the first time. It also is available for the first time to early childhood education centers. The expansion affirms the value of 10 Cents a Meal in providing local fruits, vegetables, and dry beans for Michigan’s children.
“Since its inception, I have been an avid supporter of the 10 Cents a Meal program,” said State Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), who has been the lead legislative champion of the program. “I have supported investments in the program during every budget cycle and I passionately believe it is a crucial tool that helps ensure students can focus on their education while also receiving a healthy and balanced diet of Michigan-grown products. I will continue supporting the program and hope to see it grow to reach more schools.”
As a matching fund grant for school districts and ECEs, 10 Cents a Meal essentially doubles the state's investment because schools match the grant dollars with existing school and ECE lunch funds, usually federal dollars, assuring more money goes to Michigan family farms and the state’s economy.
“10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms is a common-sense program that helps get local fruits and vegetables into our schools and early childhood education programs,” said State Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint). “Flint’s kids deserve fresh and nutritious foods to help encourage good eating habits into adulthood and to help nourish their growing brains and bodies. I am proud to see that the Flint school district was awarded $170,000 by MDE and I look forward to seeing further expansion of the program in the budget year ahead.”
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, for example the FlintFresh Food Hub, which delivers products from local farms to local customers. The value of building that infrastructure, beyond creating more local jobs, became clear during the COVID crisis when national food supply chains faltered.
"Our Flint students deserve the best and healthiest school food we can provide,” said Lauren Holaly-Zembo, CEO, Crim Fitness Foundation. “We are so excited to have 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms available to our community. The $170,000 awarded to Flint Schools is an incredible resource and will go a long way to be able to provide healthy foods to our students while also supporting Michigan agriculture."
To learn more, please visit www.tencentsmichigan.org.
For the complete list of 2020-21 award grantees, visit https://www.tencentsmichigan.org/about
For the Michigan Department of Education press release on the first round of 10 Cents a Meal grantees, please click here.
Diane Golzynski, Michigan Department of Education, [email protected]
Nathan Medina, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, [email protected]
Samantha Farah, Crim Fitness Foundation, [email protected]
Brenda Duong, for Flint Community Schools, [email protected]