|For immediate release: July 3, 2023
MDARD media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
MDE media contact: Marty Ackley, 517-241-7018
Governor Whitmer Proclaims July as Farm to Summer Month
Fresh, local products served to Michigan kids at ‘Meet Up and Eat Up’ sites across the state this summer
Lansing, MI – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared July 2023 as Farm to Summer month to celebrate Michigan’s local food and agriculture products and promoting the use of local, in-season produce at summer feeding sites located at schools and non-profits across the state.
“Farm to Summer provides a great opportunity to add fresh, local Michigan products to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program,” said Governor Whitmer. “Providing nutritious meals to Michigan kids during the summer months will help them succeed in the next school year, and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables supports our farm families and communities – a win/win for Michigan.”
Officially known in Michigan as Summer Food Service Program’s (SFSP) Meet Up and Eat Up, this program provides free, nutritious meals during the summer to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas, where 50 percent or more of the students in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.
“The future of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is in the hands of younger generations, and it’s important for young Michiganders to learn about our local food and agriculture products,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “Summer programs that focus on teaching healthy habits and highlighting Michigan-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, combined with supplying healthy, fresh and nutritious meals to kids, will ensure a bright future for Michigan’s food and agricultural industry.”
Farm to Summer provides an opportunity to increase the purchase and promotion of Michigan products on menus; serve fresh, locally grown produce to children at SFSP Meet Up Eat Up sites; and provide enrichment opportunities to engage children to learn about Michigan agriculture, all during a time when schools are not in session.
Early child care education programs, children, and teens receive many benefits from the SFSP, including fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, which are in peak production during the summer months. Students learn where Michigan-grown products come from, including local Michigan farms, gardens, and producers. SFSP meal sites help children develop heathy habits through hands-on learning activities and educational opportunities, including gardening and taste-testing of a variety of Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.
“Filling the summer hunger gap is crucial because it sustains children’s health and can reduce any summer learning loss,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Farm to Summer and our Summer Food Service Program connect Michigan children with healthy food choices, how healthy food is grown locally, and benefits their capacity to continue learning through the summer months.”
Michigan is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the U.S., leading the nation in the production of dry black beans, dry cranberry beans, tart cherries, asparagus, cucumbers, dry navy beans, squash, and dry small red beans, and ranking high in the production of blueberries, summer squash, bell peppers, peaches, carrots, celery, sweet cherries, apples, fresh sweet corn, and many other specialty crops. The state has more than 46,000 farms producing a wide variety of crops on nearly 10 million acres of farmland. Michigan’s food and agriculture system employs over 805,000 people, about 17.2 percent of the state’s workforce. This contributes more than $104.7 billion to the state’s economy annually.
SFSP sponsors can take advantage of Michigan’s growing season and source many locally grown products into their menus. SFSP is encouraging meal sites to celebrate Farm to Summer with special activities during July that highlight fruits and vegetables, fun recipes, and educational and physical activities.
Read the full Michigan Farm to Summer proclamation here.
Resources for SFSP Meet Up and Eat Up Sites: