In Michigan, 10 Cents a Meal For Michigan’s Kids & Farms is helping to improve childhood nutrition and incentivize local farming economies. The state-funded program provides 10 cents per meal to Michigan’s schools and early childhood education centers to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes.
“We’re keeping those taxpayer dollars we spend on K-12 nutrition and food service right here in Michigan,” says Wayne Schmidt, Michigan state senator.
10 Cents A Meal is helping kids make healthier food choices and helping schools and childcare providers serve kids healthier food while saving money.
“We know that healthy eating habits are built over time and that multiple exposures to foods are needed for children to begin to accept them,” says Melanie Wong, a farm to early childhood education specialist at Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. “So, a program like 10 Cents a Meal … can help food program managers continue to offer healthy Michigan-grown produce so children can be exposed to it and form those healthy eating habits.”
“It reinforces and affirms the work that we’re doing, and I know that’s probably not where most people start but it says, ‘Yes, you’re on the right path and yes this is important,’” says Sonja Forte, executive director of Baxter Community Center, an organization that runs a child development center and holistic health care center in Grand Rapids, Mich. “The second thing is it does help financially offset some of the cost. …What we’ve found is we actually, after about six months in, started to save money.”
Already, the Michigan Farm Bureau has reported economic benefits across the region. This year, the Michigan legislature increased funding from $4.5 million to $9.3 million.
“We support the future endeavors of the program,” said Michigan Farm Bureau Horticulture and Industry Relations Specialist spokesperson Kevin Robson. “And we encourage the project team to continue to build on their success and enhance the program’s effectiveness, to remain a paramount program example for other states to follow.”