10 Cents a Meal is a match grant for schools to purchase MICHIGAN grown produce and dry beans and it is currently available in five of Michigan’s ten prosperity regions. Over the past three years of the program, farmers have developed new markets for their products and school kids are consuming more healthy, Michigan grown produce. Win, win!
Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the US and a national leader in the cultivation of apples, asparagus, blueberries, tart cherries, green beans, dry beans, potatoes and squash. Despite our rich produce production, most Michiganders still do not meet the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables and 32% of our children are overweight or obese.
Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of good health and lifelong health patterns are often established in childhood. Exposure to healthy habits at an early age can encourage long term health. One of the best places for this positive exposure to occur is in the school setting. Fortunately, a statewide pilot program, 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms, is supporting schools in infusing more fresh, Michigan grown produce into their menus.
The days are getting shorter and the smell of drying leaves and woodsmoke is in the air. Fall is here and that means it’s back to school for Michigan’s 1.5 million public school students. For many of us, back to school conjures up a variety of images and smells: freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks, new backpacks, and the infamous mystery meals served in the cafeteria. For many of Michigan’s students, however, the school year also brings with it the tantalizing smells and flavors of locally sourced, and carefully prepared, food.