The food system has the capacity to nourish our bodies, our planet, and our communities through our purchasing habits and business practices. It has the potential to be accessible, equitable, fair, healthy, diverse, and sustainable. How you ask?
Introducing the Michigan Good Food Charter! Since 2010, the Michigan Good Food Charter has curated a “vision and a roadmap to advance Michigan’s food and agricultural contributions to the economy, protect our natural resource base, improve our residents’ health, and enable generations of Michigan youth to thrive.” Now in 2022, the Center for Regional Food Systems has launched a renewed vision and roadmap for the next decade of Michigan’s food economy – from building collaborative infrastructure to sourcing nutritious and healthy foods. The Charter acts as a guiding document connecting programs, policy, and people.
People First Economy believes that nourishing our community is made possible by providing the ingredients necessary for equitable and healthy growth within the food economy so that the environment, businesses, and local communities thrive. Furthering an equitable, healthy food economy is the result of both consumer habits and business practices.
What does the Michigan Good Food Charter look like in action? Check out how these local businesses are taking action on the ground!
Charter Goal: Use the power of collaboration to dismantle racism and systemic inequity in food systems.
Spectrum Heath believes in a future where health is simple, affordable, equitable, and exceptional. At first glance, you may think this applies primarily to their health care services. However, at Spectrum Health food is a big part of the equation, tending to underlying causes and community viability.
“Spectrum Health is proud of our commitment to our community. We’ve set ambitious goals to increase our spending with diverse, local, and sustainable companies within Nutrition Services and more broadly throughout the organization. Our goals signify Spectrum Health’s commitment to sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We aim to support our local economy and build wealth within historically marginalized communities in an effort to leverage our purchasing power to address economic factors impacting the social determinants of health. In 2021 Nutrition Services was able to purchase 18% or $2.2 million dollars in food purchases with local, diverse suppliers inclusive of 29 local businesses providing hundreds of items. Businesses like Malamazing Juice Company, Anu Sushi, Mosby popcorn, Daddy’s Dough, Cherry Central Farm Co-op , Sugar mama’s bakery, and Carmela foods just to name a few. It is these local diverse owned and supporting community businesses, that we are proud to be partners of to achieve our commitment to sustainability, diversity, equity, and Inclusion."
- Kevin Vos VP of EVS, NS & Hospitality
Charter Goal: Establish fair compensation, safe working environments, and opportunities for career advancement in food systems.
Field and Fire launched from a passion for the craft of fermentation, the local food system, and the provision of healthy products. As they’ve grown their business, opened a new location, and increased the size of their staff; this same level of passion and care has extended to their employees.
“Field & Fire strives to be a company that is intentional in our efforts to develop quality food systems jobs and equitable career pathways in Grand Rapids. We recognize the lack of accessible employment connected to our local food system due to persistent wealth disparities, health inequities, and systemic inequalities, and remain active in our efforts to promote long-term societal change. For us, this looks like recruitment and promotion processes free from bias, open book financing, and bridging opportunity gaps in our community through our partnerships with organizations such as Sheldon House, the AYA Youth Collective, and the Center for Community Transformation. It’s important for us that our employees are working in a diverse, inclusive environment where everyone has a voice and is receiving the support and resources they need to thrive."
- Shelby Kibler, Owner
Charter Goal: Support people to have real choices that lead to good food and health.
Malamiah Juice Bar believes that business can be a real asset to the local community, from providing joyful experiences to creating nutritious products. It’s their belief that healthy products can sustainably and intentionally contribute to local economic growth and human flourishing that lead to the launch of their wholesale arm – Malamazing Juice Co.
“Good food takes time. As such, so did growing opportunities for Malamiah Juice Bar. Our relational harvest time came last year after Malamiah Juice Bar launched a cold-pressed juice brand called Malamazing Juice Co. Our product was right up the alley of what Spectrum Health and their guests were looking for: Fresh, Healthy, and Delicious. Being a vendor of Spectrum Health has helped our brand to stretch into other cities and states, by getting our juices into the hands (and bellies) of those who visit Spectrum for a service or procedure, as well as those who are visiting a loved one. One of the joys of such a relationship was manifested last week when someone sent us a message about how one of our juices helped to heal their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We, indeed, have a product that heals, and what better place to get that healing, than at a health provider's location? Plus, you can pick up a few extra bottles of Malamazing Juice Co. to take home."
- Jermale Eddie, Owner
Whether you contribute to a food-based business or an entirely different industry, the governance of our business practice matters, from building collaborative infrastructure to sourcing the best products. These Michigan businesses (and many more) are making big strides toward the kind of food system growth possible in our state. It’s the people behind our businesses (and consumers who invest in them) that have the ability to shape our food economy. We can’t forget that food at its core is relational and we need many hands to make light work in bulding healthier systems that nourish ourselves and the community.