Imagine what it would be like to want an apple, a pear, a banana or carrots, peas, or, yes, even broccoli, and there was no place to get them.
That’s what more than 1.8 million Michigan residents, including 300,000 children, face every day, according to the Michigan Good Food Fund. They live in lower‐income communities with limited access to the fruits and vegetables they need to be healthy and avoid serious illnesses such as obesity.
Limited access to the right foods goes hand-in-hand with lack of economic development in their neighborhoods and the jobs more development could bring.
With that in mind, the Michigan Good Food Fund awarded $75,000 each from its Catalytic Investment Awards to two high-impact Detroit retail projects that will increase healthy food access and spark economic development in several neighborhoods. The goal is to help them grow their capacity to successfully secure financing within the next 12 months.
The two Detroit organizations receiving the awards are:
- Detroit Black Community Food Security Network: Predevelopment funding for a new mixed-use site in Detroit to include a grocery store, café, incubator kitchen, community space, and administrative offices
- Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in partnership with FoodLab Detroit: Feasibility study and facility design to expand the Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market to include a new year-round food hall featuring FoodLab entrepreneurs
“These Michigan Good Food Fund awards are fueling the entrepreneurship so abundant in our state’s good food economy,” says Devita Davison, interim director of FoodLab Detroit, a partner in the Grandmont Rosedale project. “Healthy food combined with economic opportunity can make a huge difference in our communities and our state.”
Two other organizations in Michigan also received awards. They are:
- Bridgepoint Development LLC: Equity to secure funding and site improvements for a new food market in downtown Jackson, which will create 35 permanent jobs plus several part time positions
- Ken’s Fruit Markets: Funding to support the continued growth of a multi-site grocery retailer increasing access to locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables in Grand Rapids
In addition, two early stage projects in Flint, Fresh Start CDC and the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation were awarded $40,000 to support predevelopment work for two new grocery store projects in North Flint.
Not only will all these projects increase healthy food access and spark job creation, they aim to source locally grown produce – great news for Michigan farmers.
“With these investments we are accelerating greater healthy food access, while also spurring job creation and economic development across our state,” says Dr. Oran B. Hesterman, spokesperson for the Michigan Good Food Fund and president and CEO of Fair Food Network.
The investments mean so much more. Giving more residents access to healthy food will save lives by reducing the number of serious illness, such as obesity, caused by lack of the right nutrition.
Reducing obesity will also save Michigan residents billions in future healthcare costs. Obesity alone costs the state $3 billion annually in related medical costs, according to the State of Michigan. More than 30 percent of our residents are obese, which is the second highest rate of obesity in the Midwest. In 2011, 32.6 percent of Michigan’s youth ages 10–17 were overweight or obese, says a National Survey of Children’s Health.
If Michigan reduces its population’s average body mass index by just 5 percent, the state would save nearly $9 billion in health care costs by 2020 and more than $24 billion by 2030, according to a study by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health.
All total the six healthy food retail projects shared $380,000 from the Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30-million public-private partnership loan fund that provides financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across Michigan.
The Fund was created in partnership by Capital Impact Partners, Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
To find out more about the Michigan Good Food Fund go to MIGoodFoodFund.org and follow the fund on Facebook and Twitter @MIGoodFoodFund.