Secretary Vilsack Visits Michigan to Highlight Biden-Harris Administration Efforts to Expand Market Access for Producers and Healthy Meal Options for Children as part of Investing in America Agenda

Secretary Vilsack Visits Michigan to Highlight Biden-Harris Administration Efforts to Expand Market Access for Producers and Healthy Meal Options for Children as part of Investing in America Agenda

Michigan, June 27, 2023 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today visited Michigan to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build more, new, and better markets for producers and ensure children have access to healthy and nutritious meals during the summer months as part of the Investing in America agenda.

In Detroit, Secretary Vilsack joined Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, at Eastern Market, where they met with producers and highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions to increase economic opportunity and market access for farmers and food businesses while increasing healthy and local food options for consumers.

Following their visit to Eastern Market, Secretary Vilsack and Chairwoman Stabenow visited the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Flint, where they observed a USDA Summer Food Service Program site operated by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. This program is part of USDA’s efforts to help children access healthy meals year-round and furthers the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which aims to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce diet-related diseases and health disparities by 2030.

“Providing farmers, ranchers, and families with certainty and opportunity is key to the future of our nation,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “From our efforts to increase market and economic opportunities for producers to ensuring children can access healthy meals in the summer months when school is closed, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to strengthening farm and food businesses, lowering costs for Michigan families and making healthier options more accessible for children in and outside of school.”

“It was a pleasure to welcome Secretary Vilsack back to Michigan and show him the progress we are making right here to build a more resilient food system and work toward a future where no child goes hungry,” said Chairwoman Stabenow. “As we write the 2023 Farm Bill, I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Vilsack and the Administration to build on the progress we have made in my home state and across the country.”

This visit comes as officials from the Biden-Harris Administration are spending the next two weeks in communities across the country to demonstrate how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is delivering results and creating transformative new economic opportunities for families and businesses.

Among the USDA programs highlighted in Michigan include:

  • Through the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA), USDA signed a cooperative agreement with the Michigan Department of Education to procure and distribute local foods and beverages that are healthy, including those unique to Michigan and that meet the needs of Michiganders. Eastern Market is a subawardee of the program, which aims to increase sales and support for local and socially disadvantaged farmers and producers and expand the delivery of local fresh produce to underserved communities. LFPA’s goal is to increase supply chain resiliency through support to local, regional and underserved producers.
  • USDA’s nutrition programs at Eastern Market are helping to provide healthy and nutritious produce to Michigan families. This includes WIC Project FRESH, which provides low-income, nutritionally-at-risk WIC clients with eligible, locally grown, fresh, unprepared fruits and vegetables; Senior Market Fresh, which provides seniors with coupons to use at certain farmers’ market and roadside stands; and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, or GusNIP, which funds projects that provide fruit and vegetable incentives at the point of purchase for SNAP participants and produce prescriptions.
  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service partners with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan (FBEM) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Flint to administer nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In 2022, the SFSP at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Flint served nearly 2,600 meals to children in the Flint community. Throughout their 22 counties of reach, FBEM operated 40 SFSP sites in 2022, serving over 40,000 meals to over 2,000 daily participants. Nationwide, FNS summer meals programs served an average of 3.6 million children each day in July 2022.
  • Though Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), approximately 900,000 children in Michigan are receiving $108 million in benefits for their families to purchase food this summer. USDA will launch a permanent Summer EBT program beginning next summer.
  • Last week, USDA announced funding for schools to purchase domestic foods to help ensure school meal programs have the support and resources they need to continue providing nutrition meals to help children grow, learn and thrive. USDA also announced funding for commodity purchases from U.S. farmers to support the emergency food network, including food banks, food pantries, and community kitchens. Through this funding, Michigan will receive $35.5 million to support its school meal programs, as well as $29.5 million to support its emergency food providers.
  • As one of twelve Regional Food Business Centers across the nation, Michigan State University will lead the Great Lakes Midwest USDA Regional Food Business Center, providing producers and food and farm businesses with technical assistance, coordination and capacity building support so they can access new, more and better markets. By strengthening connections between rural and urban areas, the Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center will drive economic opportunities and create a more diversified and resilient food system across Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.
  • Through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program and other USDA efforts to increase income opportunities for small- and mid-sized operations, USDA is encouraging competition and improving supply chain resiliency. For example, in Michigan, the Michigan Turkey Producers received $1.5 million in funding to upgrade utilities, waste treatment and trailer fleet to increase throughput in the facility. VernDale Products, through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, is receiving $5 million to purchase and install new equipment at the company’s dairy manufacturing plants, which will in turn create and retain jobs and bolster the family operated business.
  • Michigan is an important part of the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP), which brings together diverse partners to provide technical assistance and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic farmers. Michigan is in the Midwest TOPP Region. Partners are providing mentoring services, technical assistance, community building, and organic workforce development for transitioning and existing organic farmers. There are more than 800 certified organic farms in Michigan.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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