Michigan food pantries can now apply for grants to buy more dairy products and improve how they store food.
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross Complete of Michigan have launched a program to help food pantries – which are usually based in local communities – across the state provide access to produce dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
“Pantries want to provide these types of food, but sometimes they don’t have the infrastructure in place and don’t have the resources,” and the program is an opportunity to fill the gaps, said Shannon Carney Oleksyk , senior health care analyst. with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Food pantries are an important access point for people who are food secure, she said.
There are two grant options under the program. Food pantries can apply for up to $500 in matching funding if they purchase dairy products — such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese — from their food bank or a local retailer. They can also apply for up to $2,500 to improve their dairy and fresh produce infrastructure. This may include chillers, transport and maintenance of refrigeration equipment.
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Earlier this year, the state Food Security Council reported that food insecurity remains a persistent problem across the state. In 2019, about 1.3 million Michiganders faced food insecurity — more than 300,000 of whom were children — compared to about 1.9 million people in 2020, of whom 552,000 were children, the advisory group said.
The Gleaners community food bank continues to see increased demand since March due to rising food, gas and housing costs, said Kristin Sokul, director of advancement, strategy and planning. organisation.
“We have seen a 40% increase in the number of households served at our mobile distribution sites and this need has continued until today,” Sokul said.
Gleaners works with a network of 600 partners, including schools, soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters in Livingston, Monroe, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
Milk is one of the most demanded products because it is expensive to buy and perishable. Last year, Gleaners distributed more than 879,000 gallons of milk, Sokul said.
The deadline for pantries to apply for the grant program year is September 30. The maximum a pantry can get through the program is $2,500.
An online application is available at bit.ly/FoodPantryGrantProgramApplication. For more information, visit bit.ly/FoodPantryGrantProgram.
Nushrat Rahman covers economic mobility issues for Detroit Free Press and Bridge Detroit as a fellow with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support his work at bit.ly/freepRFA.