Several years ago, after learning Muskegon County had placed very poorly in the University of Wisconsin’s health rankings, we made a bold request to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The result was $700,000 in support of Muskegon County programs to improve access to healthy foods, and to create an endowment to fund related projects in the future. This was the beginning of HEALTHY (Healthy Eating and Access—Local Teams Helping Youth) Muskegon, a program committed to ensuring that everyone in Muskegon County has access to fresh, healthy food from local sources. HEALTHY Muskegon has supported many initiatives, such as the Veggie Van and McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, the new Muskegon Farmers Market, expanded Double Up Food Bucks, increased school gardens and healthy food pantries, and a study considering the economic development potential of a food hub in Muskegon County.
Our continued involvement includes convening the Healthy Muskegon task force, administering the HEALTHY Muskegon endowment, and a new $315,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to extend current programs and develop new ones. Over $186,000 was awarded in the first grant round (spring 2016) and included support for programs that will increase local produce used in senior meal programs; create a Power of Produce for Seniors program through the Muskegon Farmers Market; capture unsold produce from the Farmers Market and process it for redistribution to food pantries; encourage garden-to-cafeteria programs in schools; introduce nutrition education programs in Muskegon Heights and much more.
To join the effort or to receive the HEALTHY Muskegon newsletter, contact us for more information. To give to the HEALTHY Muskegon Endowment, visit our online giving page.