10 Cents a Meal dollars support Michigan farmers

Michigan’s state budget is funding free public school lunch and breakfasts next year and continuing incentives to purchase locally sourced produce.

Wendy Crowley tells Brownfield the 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids and Farms program expands school nutrition dollars to purchase eligible fruits, vegetables, and dry beans.

“It can be washed and chopped and packaged,” she shares.  “It can be frozen, it can be dehydrated, but it can’t be cooked or canned, so Michigan applesauce is not reimbursable through 10 Cents a Meal but Michigan apples are.”

Crowley works as the Farm to Program Consultant for the Michigan Department of Education and oversees the funding.

“We expect that schools will serve far more children with the free breakfast and lunches, and that gives the opportunity to put far more Michigan produce, not just in lunches but also in breakfasts,” she says. “The 10 Cents a Meal program is really focused on the meal quality piece of it.”

She says the program last year reached nearly 600,000 students and worked on improving logistics. The state plans to invest more than $9 million in the program for the second time in fiscal year 2024.

Crowley says she’s also excited about new federal programs to help address regional food system challenges and limitations the program has encountered.

Two-thirds of grant winners in 2022 said the program allowed them to try new fruits and vegetables they otherwise would not have been able to source.

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