LANSING — The 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms program through the Michigan Department of Education, which provides healthy food for Michigan children and supports farmers in the state, named 138 grantees across the state in the program’s largest year of programming yet.

Launched as a pilot program in 2016, the program is now statewide after a significant increase in funding for the 2021 fiscal year. The 10 Cents a Meal Program had its funding nearly quadrupled from $575,000 to $2 million, allowing it to expand statewide and include early childhood centers as eligible for the grant funding.

For the 2020-21 cycle, there are 138 grantees across 44 counties, representing all 10 of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA) defined regions of the state and 406,000 students served.

In the 2019-20 cycle, 39 districts received grants supporting 113,403 students in 21 counties. Just five of the 10 MASA regions were eligible for grants.

Locally, five districts were awarded grants this year. Holland Public Schools, Saugatuck Public Schools, West Ottawa Public Schools and Zeeland Public Schools were again awarded grants. Additionally, Fennville Public Schools was among the many first time grantees in this cycle.

The 10 Cents a Meal program provides schools with matching incentive funds, up to 10 cents per meal, to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes. It’s intended to provide healthy food options for kids, while also providing financial support for local farms.

“Providing healthy meals for children and supporting our state’s growers is a win-win for Michigan,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “The 10 Cents a Meal program helps meet a Top 10 state strategic education goal of improving the health safety, and wellness of learners. I want to thank the legislature and governor for expanding the program to benefit many more communities across our state.”

The MDE is assisted in the program by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.

— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.

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