ALERT! Gov Whitmer has vetoed “10-cents a Meal” school program that heps Michigan kids and farmers

10cents_michigan_sitelogoMake the call! Write the email! Click to find contact information for your legislators, Senate leadershipSenate Appropriations Committee membersHouse leadershipHouse Appropriations Committee Members, and Governor Whitmer.

Diane Conners  | Senior Policy Specialist with Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities reports:

10 Cents a Meal has been eliminated from the state budget—the victim of one of nearly 150 line item vetoes Governor Gretchen Whitmer handed down this week in what is being called an historically tense budget process.

Now it’s time to move to the next step – and there is one. The legislature can move forward on a supplemental budget process to restore the program, and Gov. Whitmer can then join legislative leaders at the negotiating table. Let’s call on them to do that—the supplemental budget process and negotiations. Contact your legislators and Gov. Whitmer now. Read below for more information on how to do this.

The governor and the legislature, bruised as they may be, have been challenging each other to truly negotiate. And they should, immediately. Delaying negotiations means delaying momentum in a healthy school lunch program—a win-win for students and farmers—that was poised this year to finally be available to school districts across the entire state.

10 Cents is a matching grant program that helps schools purchase Michigan grown fruits, vegetables, and dry beans. Because it’s an incentive match program, it doubles the state’s investment in Michigan’s economy. And it puts the wide variety of fruits and vegetables our state grows on the plates of our children. It’s investing in children’s health and our local food and farm economy.

10 Cents has received national recognition, bipartisan support, and endorsements from school, health, and farm advocates across the state.  

Those who have either signed up as supporters or provided statements of support include Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Farmers Union, Michigan Food and Farming Systems, the School Nutrition Association of Michigan, the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Healthy Kids-Healthy Michigan, Michigan League for Public Policy, and school districts ranging from those in Detroit and Flint to the state’s Upper Peninsula.

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who led the effort to expand the program statewide with $2 million in funding in the budget—before the veto—said he even thought of the program as not just bipartisan, but “nonpartisan.” Legislators in agricultural areas immediately understood the value, and legislators from urban areas, when they learned of the 10 Cents program, asked: “How can I get this for my schools?” Schmidt said.

And Governor Whitmer originally included the program in her budget as well, and also recognized it in her policy priorities when she was campaigning to be governor, despite the fact that 10 Cents was originally moved forward by Republicans.

The governor’s previous support of 10 Cents showed a win-win attitude, and that’s what we need. We need things we can agree upon. Make this one of them.

Here are steps for contacting legislators and Governor Whitmer:

Ask your legislators to call on legislative leaders—the Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House, and Appropriations Committee members and chairs in both chambers — to move forward a supplemental budget process that includes:

  • Restoring the legislature’s expanded $2 million in funding for 10 Cents a Meal
  • Expanding 10 Cents so it is available to school districts statewide, and
  • Adding in eligibility for sponsors of early child care centers.

If you have limited time, start with your own legislators, asking them to contact legislative leaders.

And then call on Governor Whitmer to respond affirmatively. Tell her why the program is valuable to you.

School has started. Let’s do this now.

Here is where you can find contact information for your legislators, Senate leadershipSenate Appropriations Committee membersHouse leadershipHouse Appropriations Committee Members, and Governor Whitmer.

If you need more information about the impacts of 10 Cents a Meal, check out the reports to the legislature at


National Farmers Market Week Aug. 4 – 10

defaultShop the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market to support the local food economy!
Saturdays 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Aug 3, 10,  & 24 at MLK Jr. Park. Aug. 31 at LINC.

Who’s ready for National Farmers Market Week? The annual event celebrating the important role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system kicks off on August 4. Whether you manage a market, or just like to shop at one, here are 5 ways you can not only help make this year’s celebration, the biggest and best yet, but support farmers markets all year long!

1.       Visit your local farmers market – obviously! Meet a friend, take your family, or just spend a relaxing day by yourself taking in the fun and festivities. Click here to find a farmers market near you.
2.       Support the farmers! Did you know farmers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar that shoppers spend at traditional food retail outlets, like grocery stores? But when you shop at a farmers market, 100% of your food dollar goes directly to the farmer. So be sure to buy some farm-fresh food when you visit. Your support is particularly important to new and young farmers, who rely on farmers markets to grow their business.
3.       Become a volunteer! It takes a lot of work to operate a farmers market, and often with limited staff and a tight budget. Reach out to your local market and find out how you can help.
4.       Spread the word! Tell your friends and family why you love farmers markets, and encourage them to become regular shoppers. Become an influencer for local agriculture; share your market’s social media posts, or create some of your own. Be sure to follow FMC on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and share our posts about the benefits of farmers markets, too.

Environmental Justice Assessment of Michigan reveals Environmental Injustice Across the State

unnamedReposted from Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

n July 23, researchers from the University of Michigan completed their analysis of Environmental Justice in Michigan. Laura Grier, Delia Mayor, and Brett Zeuner, under the direction and advisement of Dr. Paul Mohai, at the School of Environment and Sustainability built on models utilized in other states and found that in Michigan people of color communities are disproportionately impacted by toxic exposure. They combined interview data with qualitative data.

The study reviewed eleven environmental indicators: air toxics cancer risk, air toxics respiratory hazard index, diesel particulate matter (PM), ozone level, PM2.5 level, traffic proximity and volume, lead paint indicator, proximity to National Priority List sites, proximity to risk management plan facilities, proximity to treatment storage and disposal facilities, and a wastewater discharge indicator. The six social indicators used in the study were: percentage of people of color residents, percent of households living below twice the federal poverty level, unemployment rate, percent of residents with less than a high school education, percent of households living in linguistic isolation, and percent housing-burdened low-income households to create an environmental injustice score.

The synthesis of the results from the analyses yielded three key findings. First, environmental injustice exists in Michigan. Interview data spoke to the disproportionate environmental exposure and lack of access to environmental goods residents of low-income and minority communities experience, including living in areas with poor air quality, drinking contaminated water, and failing to receive the same levels of economic investment as other communities in the state.

The team used the data to create maps displaying environmental justice scores revealing geographic hotspots of disproportionate impact. Areas on this map with high environmental justice scores are census tracts with high concentrations of people who are minorities, have low educational attainment, are unemployed, are less likely to speak English, live below twice the federal poverty level, and are severely burdened by housing costs. For example, the top 1% most polluted tracts are represented with 86% people of color living in those areas, versus the state average of 29% people of color statewide.

See Maps created by Bridge Magazine of Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids

Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition will continue to advocate– along side of long-time community leaders– in ensuring the State of Michigan apply the cumulative impact tool in decision-making. This work builds on decades of work that are frontline community demands to recognize all the impacts on families and communities, rather than an isolated approach.

Read the full study here.

Share your thoughts on the Park Millage with GR commission Tuesday

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Mooney Park, before and after. Read about more park transformations here.

On July 23, you can tell City Hall to tell City Commissioners how much the current Parks Millage has done for our parks and community, and why it’s vital that Grand Rapids voters have the opportunity to vote on this renewal.

Here are 3 keys reasons why this Parks Millage Renewal is important:

  1. It will ensure funds to continue improving park infrastructure, such as playgrounds, splashpads, courts, and bathrooms.
  2. It will provide new funds for much-needed park maintenance and free youth programming, which were not possible under the current millage.
  3. The proposed new millage would accomplish #1 and #2 through a $14 increase, from $50 to $64 annually.

The City Commission will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, July 23, to listen on this issue– and hopefully give the community the opportunity to vote it,

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is asking for you to come and share your stories. “Stories of great community park plans coming together, projects that have activated your park, cleaner and greener parks, open pools and new splash pads – and the projects yet to be done. Bring the kiddos! We need them to share what they love about their parks, pools, and playgrounds, too.”

Kent County DHHS funding to help clients and families remove barriers to self-sufficiency

MDHHSMDHHS-Kent-Community-Resources shares the following:

Kent County DHHS has some funding available for clients and families to help them remove barriers to self-sufficiency. The funding source is called Direct Support Services (DSS) and can be requested by completing the attached form and submitting it to Kristen Simon via email ( or fax 616-248-1047.

DSS funding may cover the following needs:

  • Child care for participation in the PATH program
  • Medical exams for pre-employment or training
  • Dental services to overcome barriers to employment or training
  • Relocation assistance if new job is beyond commuting distance (2 hours/day)
  • Transportation costs – bus tickets, allowance, mileage reimbursement) for PATH or employment
  • Vehicle repair for employment
  • Vehicle purchase for employment
  • Other one-time work-related expenses (license fees, trade certification, purchase of professional tools, license plates, vehicle insurance, etc.)

*Note:  There is no entitlement for DSS.  The decision to authorize DSS is within the discretion of the MDHHS or PATH program, based on local office funding.  All eligibility requirements outlined in Bridges Eligibility Manual (BEM) 232 must be met in order for DSS to be authorized.

This entry was posted on July 17, 2019, in Policy and tagged .

City’s Urban Agriculture Committee seeks community input

urban-ag-webPublished on June 27, 2019
by the City of Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids’ Urban Agriculture Committee is inviting the community to provide input on current and desired urban agriculture opportunities. The committee is hosting a community open house before its bimonthly meeting Wednesday, July 10 at Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, 334 Burton St. SE. Residents are invited to submit comments or ask questions related to urban agriculture activities and priorities from 5 to 6 p.m.

Urban agriculture covers a wide span of activities but can be simplified as producing food to eat or sell in the city by growing plants and/or raising animals.

The committee meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. City Manager Mark Washington will open the meeting with a brief overview of the City’s strategic priorities and how they can support urban agriculture goals.

“We’re glad to see how much the City’s strategic plan focuses on equity,” said Joan Huyser-Honig, chair of the Urban Agriculture Committee. “Our committee’s recommendations include ways to expand green spaces and improve health equity. Other cities are leading the way by reducing policy barriers so more people can grow, raise and harvest healthy food.”

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss formed the Urban Agriculture Committee in 2017 to provide guidance to the City on policies and zoning around the growing trend of urban agriculture. As the committee reviews current city ordinances related to urban agriculture, it is looking at national best practices in urban agriculture rules and ordinances. The committee plans to provide recommendations to the City’s Planning Commission after the July 10 meeting.

The Urban Agriculture Committee has held several previous community engagement sessions and distributed a survey to stakeholders – all of which are providing guidance in its recommendations. The community sessions and survey results indicated more education was needed on urban agriculture and how it might impact future planning for the city. To provide feedback online, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Urban Agriculture Committee, CLICK HERE.

Sign the letter today! Protect Michigan Farmworker Minimum Wage

Sign it here! Deadline May 15.NINO

The right to a minimum wage is one of the most basic and fundamental protections a worker can count on in the workplace. Agricultural workers are among the most vulnerable and often-exploited workers, doing one of the most dangerous, and essential jobs, in today’s economy. Michigan’s Wage and Hour laws are meant to offer stateside protection to workers where the federal government will not. Until very recently, this included agricultural workers on Michigan’s small farms. However, on December 19, 2017, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette changed that.

AG Opinion #7301, reinterprets a part of Michigan’s minimum wage laws (known as the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (WOWA)) as excluding workers on Michigan’s small farms from minimum wage protections. In his opinion, the former Attorney General concluded, “This construction of subsection 10(1)(b) has the effect of leaving some employees without a right to a minimum hourly wage under the WOWA (or the FLSA).” The interpretation reversed a decade-long understanding, one confirmed by the legislative history surrounding the section’s passage, that this subsection offered minimum wage protection to all workers, including those on small farms.

While the former Attorney General did not change his position, there’s a new AG in charge. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, at the direction of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, has asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to reconsider AG #7301.

UPDATE: Attorney General Dana Nessel has accepted this request and asks for public comments through mid-May as she prepares to make a decision. Support this request by signing your organization, your business, your church or faith community, or just yourself to this letter. The signature period closes on Wednesday, May 15.

This entry was posted on May 14, 2019, in Policy.