It is inspiring to see innovative approaches to solve local problems. One example is the work being done by Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Michigan, covering 16 counties.
Thanks to a multi-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, Groundwork is working to strengthen the local food economy of Western Michigan in a new project, Resilient Relationships, Resilient Supply. The project will enhance distribution networks that will help local food move from producers (e.g., farmers) to food distributors, processors and aggregators to end consumers in schools, early child education centers, and food banks and pantries. Groundwork will develop peer learning networks to help build communication and connectivity between these stakeholders. In other words, they are solving the local needs for fresh and healthy food options through building relationships across the food value chain in the region.
“We are so looking forward to working with the many, many partners it will take to make a local food economy thrive in this beautiful farming region surrounded by freshwater,” said Jen Schaap, Groundwork Food & Farming Program Director, in a recent press release.
PPA and Groundwork have a history of collaboration. PPA will be evaluating the project and working together with Groundwork to measure and track the development of the project and gather feedback from over 30 stakeholders. Our assessment will illuminate changes in the regional environment, capacity of the food ecosystem, new business relationships, and effectiveness of the learning structure.
“The project will increase community nutrition security and access to healthy, local food for children, families, and citizens with low incomes,” said PPA Project Manager, Dr. Nancy McCrohan. “The work will fill in the gaps that partners identify in infrastructure and the supply chain to help grow markets.”
The lessons learned and successes of this project will be shared to inform other regional efforts across Michigan, and across the country.
PPA has deep expertise with evaluation and research around topics related to healthy communities and food systems. To learn more, reach out to Dr. Nancy McCrohan at NMcCrohan@publicpolicy.com.