The Michigan Department of Education has announced that it is now accepting applications for the 10 Cents A Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms, the state-funded grant providing matching incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The program is open to school districts (public, public school academies, or private), residential childcare institutions (RCCIs), and child care centers that participate in the USDA child nutrition programs of Extended Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during the school year, National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Schools and early childhood settings are where children get up to two and sometimes even three meals a day. 10 Cents a Meal enhances those meals and also can support Michigan’s emerging local food system infrastructure which delivers products from local farms to local customers. Grantees say that 10 Cents a Meal provides them much-needed flexibility to try new items with children and engage them in healthy eating within tight food service budgets.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the $17.1 billion K-12 budget into law in July. The bill accounts for the largest single-year School Aid Fund budget ever passed by the state, which included funding for 10 Cents a Meal at $5 million, more than doubling the funding from $2 million in 2020-21.
The grant has gone from a modest regional pilot program in 2016 to finally being available to applicants statewide for the 2020-2021 school year, and this latest investment from the state affirms the importance of 10 Cents a Meal in providing fresh, healthy, local fruits, vegetables, and dry beans for Michigan’s schoolchildren.
Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), chair of the Senate K-12 and Michigan Department of Education appropriations subcommittee, served as a key champion of 10 Cents a Meal and navigated the program through the budget process. “Since its inception, I have been an avid supporter of the 10 Cents a Meal program,” Schmidt said. “I have supported investments in the program during every budget cycle and I passionately believe it is a crucial tool that helps ensure students can focus on their education while also receiving a healthy and balanced diet of Michigan-grown products.”
The $5 million funding is a testament to Michigan legislators’ and the governor’s understanding of the central strategic value of 10 Cents a Meal, said Diane Conners, senior policy specialist at Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, a Voices for Healthy Kids grantee for advocacy around the program.
“That this innovative program can be a part of this unprecedented investment in our children also is a testament to the resilience of school food staff and early childhood education centers, and all of those dedicated individuals who tirelessly work for the benefit of children across the state,” she said. “Healthy, locally grown foods help build the minds and bodies of our children, while the purchases support family farms and help to build the infrastructure of our local food supply.”
The 10 Cents a Meal grant application opened Monday, August 2, 2021 and will close on Monday, August 16th. 10 Cents a Meal is a competitive grant. Scoring of applicants prioritizes districts and ECEs that demonstrate the greatest ability to procure, prepare, and promote Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes, and plan for related educational activities.