Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan education budget into law at Mott Community College, putting into place historic investments not only for per-pupil funding but also for 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms. The budget includes $9.3 million for the program.
10 Cents a Meal is Michigan’s local food investment program that provides schools, early childhood education centers, and other organizations participating in USDA Child Nutrition programs with match incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
10 Cents a Meal is implemented by the Michigan Department of Education and has the goals of improving daily nutrition and eating habits for Michigan’s children and investing in Michigan agriculture and related local food business economy.
“The 10 Cents a Meal program feeds our kids and supports family farmers and growers. Under this historic education bill, we have again more than doubled funding for this program that offers healthy, affordable meals to our kids,” said Governor Whitmer. “As we continue our economic jumpstart, we have to make sure everyone has the resources and support they need to succeed. I am grateful to the Michigan Department of Education and legislators for coming together to get this done for our kids.”
The program, which has grown from a $250,000 state pilot in 2016, has seen its budget more than double each of the past two years from $2 million in FY ‘21 to $4.5 million in FY ‘22 and now $9.3 million for FY ‘23.
The program is currently in its second year of statewide availability, and there are now 257 unique grantees for the 2021-22 school year, representing over 585,000 children. Compared to last year’s 143 grantees, the program has seen a nearly 80% increase in grant recipients in a single year.
"One of my proudest accomplishments during my legislative tenure has been the growth of 10 Cents a Meal,” said Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 and Michigan Department of Education, and the program’s key legislative champion. “This program is critically important in getting fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables to our students. I have been thrilled to see the statewide growth of the program and could not be happier to see funding grow to $9.3 million for the upcoming fiscal year.”
10 Cents a Meal is open to school districts (public, public school academies, or private), and non-school sponsors of USDA Child Nutrition Programs such as residential childcare institutions (RCCIs), child care centers and after-school programs participating in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), National Breakfast Program (NBP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
In addition to the funding increase, the budget language streamlines reporting requirements for schools and other grantees and adds food purchased for supporting farm-to-school activities as eligible uses of grant funds.
“The change in reporting requirements and allowing grant funds to be used for supportive farm-to-school activities will make it easier for food program managers to complete the administrative needs of the program and to expand their efforts,” said Melanie Wong, dietitian and Farm to ECE Specialist for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.
MDE is assisted in the program by Groundwork Center, which conducts stakeholder interviews, communications, and outreach; the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which is the evaluation partner and supports trainings; and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which provides expertise on Michigan-grown products.
Find more information about 10 Cents a Meal at tencentsmichigan.org.