Over the last few decades as food inputs and sourcing is of increasing interest to consumers and “buy local” campaigns grow more main stream, the idea of food sovereignty and governance frequently comes up. Who controls our food, food decision making and rights? Nationally, a rare bi-partisan compromise has helped move forward the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, for example, making it more palatable for K-12 planning and implementation of healthy meals in 2015. Similarly and not surprisingly, within Michigan the history of food policy also winds its way according to government administration, as well as funding and local champions. Much progress has been made, however, and Michigan stands out nationally as a trailblazer in the local food movement, including policy. Currently, philanthropic, academic, public and private partnerships are working together on food access challenges ranging the gamut from institutional procurement to farmland rights and migrant labor law, to name a few.
At the end of 2015, HB5180 was introduced by the American Heart Association with the intention of complimenting the MI Good Food Fund (a philanthropic partnership) and goal of facilitating local food access by offering food retail supports. This type of a collaborative effort goes well back, but gained governmental acknowledgement and support in 2005 under the Granholm administration through development of the MI Food Policy Council. The Council was developed to recommend policy and programming that would build a local, healthy food supply chain. Out of this effort, the MI Good Food Charter was developed envisioning 20% of Michigan intuition’s foods sourced from at least 20% of MI production, feeding 80% of the population with healthy, local foods by 2020. The Council was abolished at the end of 2014 and Governor Snyder consolidated activities to form the Interdepartmental Collaboration Committee Subcommittee on food policy, however the work of the Charter continues to gain momentum and still drives policy work.
Today at the local level those looking to engage in regional policy advocacy and change are encouraged to join the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems facilitated Local Food Council Network – a peer to peer learning network that helps convene those functioning municipal level food councils to recommend practices and policies affecting their food system. These recommendations and action steps might include work around: business supports or livestock ordinances, for example, as well as how to effectively advocate and educate law makers. To better understand what is happening on the ground level and get involved now, connect with the statewide Food Justice and Sovereignty Work Group. For more information on Michigan food policy, please read the full article here.
About the author: Mary ZumBrunnen is the Director of Talent & New Market Initiatives at Prima Civitas, a statewide economic development non-profit catalyzing Michigan. She holds a BS in agriculture and natural resource communications from Michigan State University (MSU) and an MS in community, agriculture, recreation and resource studies, also from MSU. Currently she is pursuing a master of business administration. A small business owner and backyard farmer, Mary energetically works to facilitate sustainable development through citizen engagement. Connect with Mary on Twitter @Mary_ZumBrunnen and learn about other development projects onwww.primacivitas.org today.