United Way gets $75K grant to address food insecurity

Courtesy Photo Steve Wright and Joe Gentry pose with a $75,000 check to help with food insecurity.

ALPENA ­– The United Way of Northeast Michigan was a $75,000 grant funding recipient from Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for “Addressing Food and Nutrition Insecurity to Improve Health Equity” in Michigan. This grant will utilize proven strategies to increase nutritious food grown locally for food insecure children and seniors in Northeast Michigan, starting in Alcona, Alpena and Montmorency counties. Specifically, the project will establish a Double Up Bucks food incentive site in Alcona County; increase participation in and success with the 10 Cents a Meal reimbursement program in schools; and connect seniors to fresh food through a farmers’ market transportation pilot.

Steve Wright has been hired by the United Way as the NWMU Healthy Food Coordinator under the grant, reporting to Kristine Ranger, project director. Wright will be engaged in:

¯ Advancing of the local food and farming economy in Northeast Michigan.

¯ Promoting the 10 Cents a Meal Program for schools through engagement with local farmers, school administrators, area organizations and advocates and other stake holders.

¯ Supporting the local FoodCorps program, including

¯ Volunteer recruitment for Hillman and Alcona Schools

¯ assistance in sourcing local food for events and school lunch programs, as appropriate

¯ assisting with educational programming and events

¯ supporting school gardens

¯ Supporting selected senior centers in their efforts to increase access to more healthful, local food and coordinate technical assistance to growers for Senior Project Fresh

¯ Supporting the Fair Food Network/Taste a Local Difference staff in the region with Double Up Food Bucks site recruitment, educational programming ans tasting events

¯ Contribute to the reestablishment of the NEMI Local Food Policy Council in the tri0county area and help recruit others to this role

¯ Serve as a community liaison by working collaboratively with other individuals and organizations throughout the Northeast region by initiating and building relationships, communicating about the project, and coordinating with the project team and partners.

For more information contact Joseph Gentry, executive director, United Way of Northeast Michigan, 108 Water Street, Alpena, MI 49707, call 989-354-2221, or email jgentry@uniedwaynemi.org.


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