Consultants from Public Policy Associates (PPA), in collaboration with Guidehouse, are working with the City of Saginaw to develop plans to address food insecurity and increase healthy food access in the City.

In the City of Saginaw, there is limited access to full-service grocery for residents and many are food insecure. Nearly 26,000 (over 13% of) residents of Saginaw County cannot consistently afford or access enough food to live a healthy lifestyle, according to 2021 data from Feeding America. Food insecurity rates are even higher for children in the county.

With the infusion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the City allocated 2 million dollars toward addressing food security and increasing food access. PPA consultants were brought in to help guide the City’s decisions on how to use this funding.

As a first step, PPA conducted a preliminary study looking at the feasibility of attracting a grocery store to the City and assessed several grocery store business models—a food co-operative, a for-profit, and a nonprofit grocery store. The study found that with the City’s support it is feasible to attract new grocery retail to Saginaw.

A food-club—a nonprofit grocery store where low-income families pay a small monthly membership fee and receive points to buy food—is a good option for investing some of the City’s ARPA funds, in part because a group of committed partners is already in place and raising start-up funds. The ARPA funds are required to be spent by December 2026.

PPA is now working with Saginaw leaders to gather input from community members on what they want and need to increase food access and food security in the City. PPA will also gauge the interest of other potential operators about starting up a grocery store in the City.

“The findings from the community and grocery operator input will provide the information needed for the City to make smart decisions on future investments to increase food security and healthy food access for residents,” said Anna Colby, PPA project manager and the lead of the feasibility study and further input process.

PPA has worked with clients in Michigan and across the United States on issues related to food systems and food security. For more information, contact Anna Colby at