CEDAM Blog

http://cedam.info/news/blog/page/3/

Food Forward MI: Farm to Institution: A Supply Chain Opportunity (Part 2)

FoodForwardMI-BlogHeader

This is part two of a two part series. To read part one, click here.

Regional economic partnership can build a local, healthy food supply chain

______________________________________

“The challenge in expanding the local food systems is to match the cost and convenience of customary distributors.”

______________________________________

cherries-1268235_1920Across Michigan through partnership support from philanthropic, health, academic, government, business and nonprofit organizations, consumer education initiatives and new market development is helping drive demand. Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning says, “More people are getting interested in local healthy foods and farm-to-table.” He notes this has been a major part of the success of new restaurants downtown and on the city’s west side. Researching how local Saginaw institutions make such local food purchasing decisions, Dayne Walling, Manager of 21st Century Performance notes, “The challenge in expanding the local food system is to match the cost and convenience of customary distributors.”

While developing a cost-effective local regional food supply chain challenges communities across Michigan, some municipalities are capitalizing on this problem as means for development. In Saginaw, new SVRC Industries food hub is working with the non-profit Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market, quasi-governmental Downtown Development Authority and statewide business Cherry Capital Foods (CCF) on employment, logistics, marketing, storage, outreach and education. Through this partnership, CCF will assist with the business and trucking operations while SVRC employees help CCF expand their local food supply nodes from the Upper, Central and Southeast Michigan out to the Thumb. The Farmers’ Market will be housed on the first level of this new development and help attract foot traffic, beautify the riverfront and act as a vendor host for many area businesses. Joint community outreach and education activities as well as fun for all ages will be available.

chef-1245676_1920In Tuscola county, economic developers are partnering with Mid-Michigan Restaurant Consultants, Tuscola Food Hub, East Central Planning Commission, Eastern Michigan Council of Governments, the Caro Farmers Market and Incubator Kitchen as well as the Small Business Development Center to develop a pilot for improved community food access and economic well-being. With additional support from the Thumb Area Tourism Council, Intermediate School District and Cass City Village Council and Chamber, this collaborative body is developing a five year vision with goals of: increasing access to healthy foods grown by local farmers; employing local talent (with particular emphasis on logistics), and; kick-starting entrepreneurship by working across traditionally silo’d organizations. Supply and value chain creation lie at the crux of this new partnership’s success.

“We are striving to build the essential gateway to greater community food access by partnering with our school districts, community organizations, Michigan Works, small to medium sized food entrepreneurs and food producers! We are a food desert in one of the lushest regions in the United States, and the highest organic producing area in Michigan. We have an opportunity to keep our kids here through this employment opportunity as well as feed our community. We achieve this by becoming the nonprofit that oversees this food aggregation/distribution function and making it a community highlight. This is why we’ve created the Greater Thumb Agri-business Center.” Vicky Sherry, President Greater Thumb Agri-business Corporation, Communications Director, Tuscola County EDC.

Going mainstream by paving the way to community health

______________________________________

“Across Michigan as communities have worked together to test such ideas, efforts are beginning to bear fruit.”

______________________________________

For those community collaboratives desiring to build a sustainable partnership or entity that provides such a sense of place, avenues for business logistics and expansion, health and well-being: market assessment is the first step. Gauging regional business desire for locally sourced foods and producer capacity is possible with the help of resources such as Michigan State University Extension and local farm market masters to understand who is buying, what and how much from whom. Whether urban or rural, opportunity exists to further connect suppliers with purchasers and the general public through hosting inclusive events such as community workshops, roundtable dialogues or “Meet the Buyers” events.

farmers-local-market-1547315_1920As business must first vision and then scale their goals, so too must community. Taking a note from the pages of supply chain development – strategy that creates a horizontal process to guide the flow of product across enterprise–communities at a macro level may also create partnerships to lead process for cross-sector place-making strategy, food access and jobs creation. At the micro level, these partnerships can also build the foundation from which to staff, market and facilitate the aggregation and distribution of local food to consumers. Across Michigan as communities have worked together to test such ideas, efforts are beginning to bear fruit.  By facilitating access to healthy, locally made food products, we also facilitate reduction of our carbon footprint and spur economic and public health. In the long run it may just be the same supply chain that carries local to mainstream also paves the way for community development to well-being.

For more information about supply chain strategy as a community well-being tool, please contact Mary ZumBrunnen, founder of One-Community Consulting at mary.zumbrunnen@gmail.com or connect with her on Twitter @OneCommCon. For more information about healthy food access initiatives, please contact Jessica AcMoody, CEDAM senior policy specialist at acmoody@cedam.info.

We hoped you’ve enjoyed the Food Forward Michigan blog series. This is our final post in the series.

yellow-colorbar

Glasses2About the author: Mary ZumBrunnen is the CEO of One-Community Consulting, a social enterprise connecting business, non-profit, academic and philanthropic organizations to empower vibrant community. She holds multiple degrees in agriculture and community development and is currently pursuing an MBA. Mary’s passion is fostering sustainable development through citizen engagement. Follow Mary on Twitter @Mary_ZumBrunnen. Learn more at one-communityconsulting.com.

Food Forward MI: Farm to Institution: A Supply Chain Opportunity – Part 1

FoodForwardMI-BlogHeader

This is part one of a two-part series.

How does local go mainstream?

_____________________________________

“While some thought it was passing fancy, this movement is clearly not just for hipster foodies desiring an authentic experience.”

_____________________________________

farmers-1311017_1920“Growing Community,” “Know Your Farmer,” “Taste the Local Difference” and many other tag lines are helping build public awareness by highlighting opportunity to make a positive personal impact through buying locally grown and made food products. While some thought it was passing fancy, this movement is clearly not just for hipster foodies desiring an authentic experience. After more than a decade of data tracking, the results speak for themselves. Today, the USDA estimates that local food sales from farmers markets, food hubs, community-supported agriculture, farm stands and farm to school programs have more than doubled – growing from about $5 billion in sales in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014. This growth is in part due to an informed consumer base that actively researches and seeks certain products. Equally important, community support of increased access, such as that of non-profit collaboration, educational outreach and funding opportunity, have made it possible to expand clientele and experience.

The local food movement has typically implied literal physical movement to personally bring farmers and consumers together in direct sales transaction. Today, such inefficiency can prohibit Michigan business from expanding. In some ways this is an outlier in the Mitten’s otherwise growing agricultural industry. The supply and demand are documented, but connecting the two can be a challenge.  “Cultivate Michigan,” the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food SystemsFarm to Institution Network’s campaign to help organizations source 20% of their food from Michigan by 2020 has been working to track Michigan institution’s local buying habits throughout the state.  Across its 51 participating organizations, it is estimated that about 127,500 locally grown meals are served per day. For example, more than half of school food service member directors now report purchasing local foods – with more signing up every season – and nearly half of Michigan vegetable farmers indicate interest in selling produce to institutions.

Typically, the market economy would naturally help ramp this up….however, as small to mid-sized businesses attempt to scale, gaps in supply chain are prohibitive. Just think, how many eggs are daily necessary to feed one college cafeteria? How do those eggs get from many area farms to processing, storage and refrigeration into the chef’s hands? Getting “local” into everyone’s hands requires a supply chain to the mainstream.

Through the lens of a farmer…

_____________________________________

“Due to this, farmers must determine how volume, risk, when and where they sell impacts overall profit.”

_____________________________________

Often times the challenges of regional local food supply chain development affects the farmer more than consumers may realize. Produce will not wait to be harvested, talent shortages, transportation barriers, storage and a host of other challenges, including quality, freshness and appearance of product may be affected. Due to this, farmers must determine how volume, risk, when and where they sell impacts overall profit. St. John’s grower and CEO of the Learning Connection, Kristine Ranger, speaks to seasonality challenges: 

tuscany-428041_1280“The summer months are an extremely busy time period for growers and producers of all types. If vegetable growers sell at farmers markets, for example, these vendors most likely sell at several different locations each week. For many, the majority of their business income is generated from June through August revenues, so their main focus during that time is to sell, sell and sell some more!”

While small to mid-sized farmers are willing to expand, additional car time, staff time and day jobs typically hamper customer face time. Historically, those personal relationships have been critical to direct transactions. Today, in many cases, there is simply no return on additional production when it may rot on the limb with no guarantee of sale at the market. Yet consumer demand continues to rise…So who connects the dots providing necessary marketing, pick-up and delivery? It may just be that the non-profit sector can leverage strategies from supply chain development as a business crossover tool to kick start new community planning, placemaking and economic development.

For more information on Farm to Institution, please contact MSU Center for Regional Food Systems specialist, Colleen Matts at matts@msu.edu. For more information on local, healthy food access, please contact Jessica AcMoody, CEDAM senior policy specialist at acmoody@cedam.info.

yellow-colorbar

Glasses2About the author: Mary ZumBrunnen is the CEO of One-Community Consulting, a social enterprise connecting business, non-profit, academic and philanthropic organizations to empower vibrant community. She holds multiple degrees in agriculture and community development and is currently pursuing an MBA. Mary’s passion is fostering sustainable development through citizen engagement. Follow Mary on Twitter @Mary_ZumBrunnen. Learn more at one-communityconsulting.com.

Beyond the Public Meeting: Raising the Bar for Equitable Community Engagement

Written by Aaron Goodman, CDAD Community Engagement Manager

Equitable Public Involvement

_____________________________________________________________________________

“When engagement is treated as an add-on to the “real” decision making or something that is done only to minimally satisfy legal or community requirements it leads to decisions, plans and developments that likely don’t reflect the input of the whole community.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

cdad-blogWe’ve all been there: the dreaded community meeting that features more argument than dialogue, leaving residents feeling unheard and disempowered, while meeting organizers wonder why they are getting beat up by angry neighbors. This circumstance is linked to the fact that all too often, public meetings and hearings are looked at as the beginning and end of public engagement around policy and development decisions that affect local communities. When engagement is treated as an add-on to the “real” decision making or something that is done only to minimally satisfy legal or community requirements it leads to decisions, plans and developments that likely don’t reflect the input of the whole community. Such decisions can actually end up being more costly in time, money and energy as lack of meaningful community by-in and engagement at the front end of a process results in anger and organized opposition at the back end. So, if we know what an insufficient engagement process looks like, what exactly is good community engagement and how do you know you are doing it in an equitable manner?

Who Cares About Public Participation?

_____________________________________________________________________________

“…A practical framework for analyzing various kinds of engagement strategies and tactics as they move from just informing the public to actually empowering residents in decision-making for the future of their communities.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

This question was on my mind as I recently attended the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) North American Conference. IAP2 members are community engagement professionals working in a range of fields and dedicated to promoting a holistic approach to engagement. They are perhaps best known for publishing the “IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation” which provides a practical framework for analyzing various kinds of engagement strategies and tactics as they move from just informing the public to actually empowering residents in decision-making for the future of their communities. The theme of the conference was “Who Cares About Public Participation?” and it was inspiring to spend two days with folks working across many fields who are passionate about this topic and work hard to increase the impact of meaningful public participation. This question of “who cares?” also made me think of the tireless neighborhood advocates and organizers in the community development field in Detroit and across Michigan. Whole-hearted and intentional community engagement and decision-making that drives development speaks to the very core of why I am proud to be in this work.

_____________________________________________________________________________

“‘Nothing about us, without us, is for us’ is particularly relevant for community development work in a time of rising economic, social, and racial inequality in cities.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

For many of us, it is the mission of community development to move the needle for the equitable rebuilding of our neighborhoods that includes everyone, in particular the most disadvantaged, and historically dispossessed members of the community. As our cities and communities continue to evolve and change, we know that meaningful and equitable community engagement is critical in pursuing this goal. The community organizing saying: “Nothing about us, without us, is for us” is particularly relevant for community development work in a time of rising economic, social and racial inequality in cities.

cdad-blog2

Raising the Bar for Equitable Community Engagement

By now you may be thinking that these are all great ideals and slogans, but how do we exactly raise the bar for engagement so that we can have better, more inclusive results in our communities? CDAD’s work in recent years in community planning and engagement has helped us learn a lot about what works and doesn’t, and we have been inspired by innovative practices across the country that center residents in decision-making such as Community Benefits Agreements (currently a hot topic in Detroit), Participatory Budgeting, and expanding access to local Boards and Commissions. There is also a growing body of research and advocacy that is helping to raise the profile and expectations for meaningful community engagement for both nonprofits and local governments. Some of our favorite resources include: Building the Field of Community Engagement, Policy Link Guide to Community Engagement, Authentic Community Engagement – Voices for Racial Justice and plans for equitable community engagement published by municipal agencies in Seattle and Minneapolis.

To further explore these themes and best practices, we invite you to attend the upcoming Destination Vibrant Communities Conference on November 10th in Detroit. CDAD staff are excited for our workshop which will discuss foundational ideas about equity in community engagement and how to implement strategies and tactics that will build trust and relationships by including the whole community in your efforts. Learn more about the training and register here.

Two Ideas to Inspire Community Development

Written by Lisa Assenmacher, Communication & Training Specialist

What inspires your work? Is it hearing about innovative ways that community developers have implemented solutions that change the way we problem-solve in our own neighborhoods? Or, is it experiencing the energy and passion of people who have spent a number of years working towards similar goals? Is it sharing information with peers from across the state to share experiences?

For most of us, it is a combination of all three. That’s part of the reason why we plan our annual Destination: Vibrant Communities day of professional development. At CEDAM, we are driven to discover new opportunities to connect those in the field with ways to make our communities more equitable and sustainable places to live. When we meet individuals or find organizations that are inspiring, we want to know how they tick and learn their processes so that others can successfully adapt them to their own ideas and communities.

Then we make it our goal to bring them to you. This year, Destination: Vibrant Communities will include a full day of speakers and sessions that will help take your organization to the next level. Here’s a snapshot of two that you can engage with on November 10 in Detroit.

Amy Hovey: Leveraging Experiences and Assets for Community Development

amy-hovey-400x400There are some people who find ways to utilize every experience they’ve had to positively influence their projects, and Amy Hovey is an exceptional example of this. Amy uses her collective experiences in banking, politics and nonprofit community development to address the challenges and leverage assets in the Flint area as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Flint area for C.S. Mott Foundation. Her story is inspiring, and she will share her journey and describe her influences and the impact on her work as the opening keynote speaker.

Moreover, she will moderate a session that takes a closer look at the Flint water crisis and how we can be empowered to protect our communities. Watered Down: Why Flint’s Residents Weren’t Taken Seriously and How Do We Change that in the Future will provide an outlet for a discussion centered around emergency planning, the state of other communities in Michigan and the potential role of neighborhood-based organizations and leaders in similar catastrophes.

Gary Reiter: Changing Transit Oriented Development

reiterThere are many instances where we might feel a disconnect between ideas or conversations that should be, but aren’t, taking place. When people see opportunities to form a connection and outline a new path toward the same goal, it is certainly worth noting. Gary Reiter, Vice President of BMO Private Bank, noticed that there lacked conversation about affordable housing as part of transit-oriented development (TOD) even though TOD was occurring at a rapid pace in Indianapolis. After identifying the problem, he invested time to research a new concept for acquiring and holding land for future affordable housing developments, and worked relentlessly to lay the groundwork for what would become the TOD Fund, including partnership and fund development.

Can this type of program be useful in your community? Can your idea be a new approach to a problem in your area? Gary’s session Ideas in Transit: The Story of Vision Becoming Reality for Transit-Oriented Land Banking in Indianapolis is designed to share best practices for successfully implementing a new idea, or your customized version of a TOD program.

Join us in Detroit in November

Do these topics and speakers inspire you? Check out the full agenda here and discover other opportunities, ideas and leaders to learn from, engage with and utilize in your community. We hope to see you November 10 in Detroit!

 

Measuring and Evaluating Neighborhood Change

Written by Nina Holzer, Manager of CDC Advancement, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

We’ve all seen them. Article after article highlighting the comeback of cities, flocking of millennials to urban centers and revitalization of downtown. Many rust belt cities, whose population numbers plummeted over to the course of the past fifty years, are starting to see a deceleration in population decrease.

Cleveland’s Revitalization

____________________________________________________________________________________

“Cleveland’s downtown now boasts a 97% occupancy rate, has seen $6 billion in investment between 2008 and 2015 and has seen a 79% population increase since 2000[1].”

____________________________________________________________________________________

cleveland-454067_1920Cleveland, a city once booming with a population of nearly one million, teeters near the 400,000 mark. Though the city’s population has more than halved, the tides have started to turn. Cleveland’s downtown now boasts a 97% occupancy rate, has seen $6 billion in investment between 2008 and 2015 and has seen a 79% population increase since 2000[1]. Many surrounding neighborhoods are also seeing positive development, with increased property values new construction and rehab projects and fewer vacant storefronts in their commercial districts. This good news for Cleveland is also the good news for many cities across the Midwest, from Detroit to Minneapolis.

Ensuring Equitable and Inclusive Change

____________________________________________________________________________________

“Therefore, as Midwestern cities re-populate and grow it is imperative that community developers get ahead of this positive development to ensure that neighborhood change is inclusive and equitable, especially for those residents who are not benefitting from the progress.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

Though this news is exciting, we still have a long way to go and much work to do. In many cases, development is uneven, with certain segments of the population benefitting while others continue to be left behind. Cleveland continues to be highly segregated, with many predominantly African American neighborhoods dealing with blighted and/or abandoned housing; negative health outcomes and health disparities; high poverty and unemployment rates; and poor schools and education outcomes. These are realities that we cannot ignore as our city changes.

Therefore, as Midwestern cities re-populate and grow it is imperative that community developers get ahead of this positive development to ensure that neighborhood change is inclusive and equitable, especially for those residents who are not benefitting from the progress. One way to do so is by digging into available data and making strategic, data-informed decisions.

The Progress Index and Using the Data

____________________________________________________________________________________

“Every CDC gets an updated dashboard for their service area and neighborhood on a yearly basis, thus allowing them to identify trends and develop strategies to address issues gleaned from the numbers in their dashboard report.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

cnp-logo-pms-2Several years ago, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress partnered with the Center on Poverty and Urban Development at Case Western Reserve University to develop a progress metric dashboard for our community development corporations called The Progress Index. This index uses publicly-available data housed in the Poverty Center’s NEO CANDO database, as well as other data pulled from the center’s CHILD and NST integrated data systems, to create a dashboard of indicators of interest to our local CDCs. The dashboard first looks at two primary Progress Metrics: median sale price of homes and median household income. Next, the dashboard digs deeper and explores other indicators that drive neighborhood vitality and success: diversity, education, housing, household makeup, income mix, population, quality of life, housing stabilization and vacancy. Every CDC gets an updated dashboard for their service area and neighborhood on a yearly basis, thus allowing them to identify trends and develop strategies to address issues gleaned from the numbers in their dashboard report.

In addition to equipping CDCs with the data necessary for evaluating change in their neighborhoods, CNP has also developed Performance Standards which synthesize nonprofit and community development best practices. This allows us to further build and support the capacity of CDCs so that they are best positioned to stay ahead of the curve and meet new demands or changing dynamics in their neighborhood.

Join us on November 10 at Destination: Vibrant Communities to Learn More

Interested in learning more about Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ model for comprehensive community development and strategy measuring and evaluating neighborhood change? Join us in a discussion about assessing CDC capacity, creating a dashboard to evaluate neighborhood change and developing standards for community development best practice at Destination: Vibrant Communities 2016.

Pro Bono Legal Referral Program

Member-Spotlight-header4

Written by Amanda Gregory, Legal & Policy Program Manager at Michigan Community Resources

_____________________________________________

“This is frustrating for the organizations, because often the filing fee is all that is standing in the way of these immigrants working legally.”

_____________________________________________

img_8736cmykSeveral years ago, the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center wanted to create a “fee bank” pilot project to allow their immigration legal clients to borrow money for the required government filing fees.  These fees are usually hundreds to thousands of dollars and, for some types of applications, they cannot be waived.  This is frustrating for the organizations, because often the filing fee is all that is standing in the way of these immigrants working legally.  Through the years, these organizations watched dozens of clients languishing who were eligible for status but just didn’t have the government filing fee to move forward.

Susan Reed at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center said, “Being a lawyer, I knew banking involved a bunch of laws, but that’s about all I knew, so we asked Michigan Community Resources to find us banking lawyers to help.  They connected us to Mara McNeill from Honigman who helped ensure compliance and assisted us in drafting our promissory notes […] as a pro bono project. Blue Ox Credit Union in Battle Creek agreed to service the loans for us at no cost.”

The Michigan Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights hosts the loan program and is formally the lender.  Member organizations of MCIRR can nominate their clients for loans as long as they are providing legal services at no cost to the client. They have made four loans to date, and the first loan was repaid in full well ahead of schedule! That client now has immigration status through the DACA program!

_____________________________________________

MCR’s Pro Bono Legal Referral Program can connect hard-working nonprofit organizations with expert attorneys willing to volunteer their time.

_____________________________________________

mcr-logo-legal_rgbSince 1998, Community Legal Resources’ Pro Bono Legal Referral Program, a part of Michigan Community Resources (MCR), has connected hundreds of nonprofits with volunteer attorneys to provide free legal assistance. With over 91 volunteer attorneys in 2015, we were able to provide our partners with approximately 3000 hours of pro bono service.  It is the only pro bono legal referral program in Michigan focused on transactional work for nonprofits. To date, we have provided over 15 million dollars in pro bono services.

The attorneys who volunteer through this program tackle a broad range of legal concerns including contracts, real estate/real property, intellectual property (trademark, trade secret, and copyright), employment, tax, 501(c)(3) reinstatement, fiscal sponsorship and fundraising, joint ventures, dissolution and more!

In addition to direct referrals for pro bono services, MCR produces high-quality legal publications, tools, workshops and eLearning modules aimed at serving the legal needs of our nonprofit clients.  Some of our most popular publications include our legal guide to Crowdfunding for Nonprofits and our Employment Law Manual (currently being updated). MCR is also updating its groundbreaking Community Land Trusts (CLT) Manual, which has been used statewide by nonprofits interested in this unique tool for neighborhood revitalization.

Nonprofits, like businesses, face many legal requirements.  Michigan Community Resources is here to help! We understand that dealing with legal issues and lawyers can be intimidating. For nonprofit organizations on a shoestring budget, the prospect can be so unnerving that dealing with important legal issues might be avoided all together. MCR’s Pro Bono Legal Referral Program can connect hard-working nonprofit organizations with expert attorneys willing to volunteer their time. It is easy to apply.  Just visit our website and fill out an application.

memberspotlight-smallMichigan Community Resources (MCR) is a nonprofit organization that works to drive policy change, connect and improve systems that impact quality of life and the economy in low income communities, and bring a voice to those who have not been heard. A long-time partner of CEDAM, we work together to share programs and services that would benefit our members and clients.

The Marriage Between Population Health and Community

Written by Brian McGrain, Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer

The “ZIP Code Improvement Business”

_______________________________________________________________________________

“Your zip code […] has an awfully big impact on your health outcomes.”

_______________________________________________________________________________

doctor-563428_1920

For a number of years now, those involved in public health across the nation have been spending considerable amount of time studying and acting upon the “social determinants of health.” Defined by health care professionals, these are economic and social conditions that can have an effect on a person’s health. In essence, while many people might think that genetics play the sole role in determining how healthy (or not) a person is, we are now seeing more and more that factors like where you live and what you have access to are equally important contributors. Your zip code, therefore, has an awfully big impact on your health outcomes.

As community economic development professionals, we have been in the “zip code improvement business” for quite some time. We have been all about neighborhood-based strategies to revitalize our communities and help those around us achieve greater economic prosperity.  But we haven’t necessarily thought directly about the public health implications of our work.

Recent Conversations in Cleveland

Recently, the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) held a one-day summit in Cleveland, Ohio, to put CED and health care practitioners in one room to discuss areas of overlap. These was much discussion about what the social determinants of are and how different states and regions are seeking to positively address them through a community development lens.

It is interesting to note, however, that we don’t always speak the same language. For instance, “CDC” means something very different for CED and for health policy practitioners (“Community Development Corporation” versus “Center for Disease Control”). Our methods and metrics differ a great deal as well.

CED and Health Practitioners Coming Together

_______________________________________________________________________________

“Representatives from the Fund will provide insight and practice for individuals hoping to master the marriage of community and population health.”

_______________________________________________________________________________

xmhef-final-logo_color-2-jpg-pagespeed-ic-rdnbzmfqp7

It is with that in mind that we have invited the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to be a special presenter at the 2016 Destination: Vibrant Communities (DVC) conference on November 10 in Detroit. Representatives from the Fund will provide insight and practice for individuals hoping to master the marriage of community and population health. There will be discussion about shared outcomes, stories about successful collaboration and ultimately practice in translating common goals from one side to the other. This session will provide you tools to improve your grant-writing, program design and partnerships through a healthy communities lens.  The outcome for you will be ways to better access a wider pool of resources to help you affect change in your community. Learn more about this session and others at members.cedam.info/destination.

We hope you will be able to join us for DVC this year for this session and for a host of other compelling sessions that will give you the prescription for boosting your work. See you in Detroit!

Michigan eLibrary for Businesses

Written by Deb Renee Biggs, Michigan eLibrary & Outreach Coordinator, Library of Michigan

____________________________________

“Particularly for micro businesses, this could be a powerful resource to starting a business, as well as maintaining business practices.”

____________________________________

The Michigan eLibrary, otherwise known as MeL, is Michigan’s online library mellogoresource. With origins dating back from 1992, this free service allows Michigan residents to access a number of highly useful books, articles, photos and research information for no cost. This service also helps Michigan residents order library books or goods their participating libraries, find historical records and gives information to those in specific areas of work.

In July 2016, MeL debuted MeL Business with emphasis on powerful tools that can help Michigan businesses start, grow, support and succeed.  MeL Business was made with the purpose to “[…] Explore core eResources, identify key partners, conduct research, and connect with your local library to succeed in running your business.” Those interested can watch a series of 4 videos on the portal page to find out how MeL Business can work for you or go to MeL’s YouTube channel.

customer-service-1433639_1280Particularly for microbusinesses, this could be a powerful resource to starting a business, as well as maintaining business practices. Microbusinesses often refer to small, homegrown businesses that consist of a small number of people and are often limited to their local area and/or online sales. While local businesses have been around for many years, the idea of microbusinesses grew exponentially in the 1980’s, and has only increased in the years since. Having a free resource with this valuable information can help create better local economies and help microbusinesses succeed.

On September 13, 2016, from 12:30-1:30 pm, MeL will be doing a Twitter Chat in support of MeL Business and invite you to join in to learn more about the portal and the amazingly useful resources it contains that can help you either start or grow a business. Reach MeL using Twitter and use the hashtag #MeLBizChat

Food Forward MI: Farm to School

FoodForwardMI-BlogHeader

__________________________________________________________________

“Combating childhood obesity, diabetes and other nutrition related disease can start in the classroom and extend to the family as students are educated and then empowered to make healthy food choices.”

__________________________________________________________________

school-1182584_1920Rewind to 2015’s Where Food Access and Community Development Merge post, we reiterate that a community food system isn’t just about connecting local growers to a farm market or boosting seasonal tourism. It’s about the triple bottom line and improving health, wealth and social impact. One way to build community through food system development begins with field (or even the playground) and ends on students’ forks. Over the last decade, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the connection between physical education and school lunch programs as an opportunity for a one-two health-economy punch. Combating childhood obesity, diabetes and other nutrition-related disease can start in the classroom and extend to the family as students are educated and then empowered to make healthy food choices. The key word being empowerment. Students must have the option of making healthy food choices along with education regarding their impact. Nationally, this connection is being drawn by Farm-to-School programs that are providing youth with healthy food access; encouraging lifelong healthy eating habits, supporting local farmers, reducing negative environmental impacts, preserving rural communities and promoting awareness of how empowered choices make impactful outcomes.

NFSN-Logo-Vertical-Full-ColorThe National Farm to School Network (NFSN) empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. NSFN provides vision, leadership and support at the state, regional and national levels to connect and expand the farm to school movement, which according to their data collection, has grown from “a handful of schools in the late 1990s to approximately 42,000 schools in all 50 states as of 2014.” Within the mitten, Michigan Farm to School (MFS) at the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) focuses statewide efforts to serve local foods in school, early childcare and education food programs. To learn about specific programs contact Farm to School Specialist Abigail Harper at harperab@anr.msu.edu.

__________________________________________________________________

“Findings indicated that across the state, the top motivating factors for local procurement were supporting the local economy, helping MI farms, offering access to fresher food and that of higher quality, as well as increasing student consumption of fruits and vegetables.”

__________________________________________________________________

In May of 2016, the CRFS released its report MI Farm to School Grant Program: The First Three Years noting influences and barriers to local food purchasing as well as product ranking, funding opportunity and advice for programming. Findings indicated that across the state, the top motivating factors for local procurement were supporting the local economy, helping MI farms, offering access to fresher food and that of higher quality, as well as increasing student consumption of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, findings also indicated that many cafeterias find sourcing seasonally a barrier, run into budget constraints, find federal and state procurement regulation to also be a barrier and lack enough local regional producers to meet demand.

For more information, please contact Jessica AcMoody, Senior Policy Specialist at CEDAM or check out: http://foodsystems.msu.edu/resources/fid-guide

yellow-colorbarGlasses2
About the author: Mary ZumBrunnen is the CEO of One-Community Consulting, a social enterprise connecting business, non-profit, academic and philanthropic organizations to empower vibrant community. She holds multiple degrees in agriculture and community development and is currently pursuing an MBA. Mary’s passion is fostering sustainable development through citizen engagement. Follow Mary on Twitter @Mary_ZumBrunnen. Learn more at one-communityconsulting.com.

Proposed HUD Rule on FMRs

Written by Heidi Kurniawan, Policy Intern175px-US-DeptOfHUD-Seal.svg

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently published a proposed rule that aims to give low-income residents more choice by reworking the Section 8 housing-voucher program. The current program gives housing assistance through coupons that cover a portion of rents, and for a number of reasons, these vouchers are more frequently used in neighborhoods where poverty is the most prevalent and rent is the cheapest. The idea of using these vouchers for higher-rent communities—usually with better schools, less crime, and lower rates of poverty—is out of the question for many low-income tenants because it would mean covering extra housing expenses out of pocket. Instead, they stay in areas of concentrated poverty, exacerbating economic and racial segregation in many neighborhoods. In addition, many landlords in low-rent submarkets currently have the ability to collect subsidized rents greater than market rents.

____________________________________________________________________

“The goal here is to expand the range of housing opportunities for low-income tenants who use the voucher program and enable them to move out of areas of concentrated poverty into communities with better opportunities.”

____________________________________________________________________

This problem endures partly because current HUD policy determines vouchers using a formula that considers rent prices across an entire metro area—currently called 50th percentile Fair Market Rents (FMRs). Rents can vary widely within a city depending on what neighborhood you’re looking at, which is exactly why HUD’s new proposal plans to base its formula on rents across ZIP codes instead of cities—using what they call Small Area Fair Market Rents (Small Area FMRs). The goal here to is expand the range of housing opportunities for low-income tenants who use the voucher program and enable them to move out of areas of concentrated poverty into communities with better opportunities.

keys-1317391_1920These proposed changes have already been enacted in Dallas, Texas, as an experimental federal program in 2011. With staggered maximum subsidies depending on ZIP codes, the changes enacted did exactly what they aimed to do. In 2011, Dallas voucher recipients lived in 129 ZIP codes. Four years later, they spanned across 163 different ZIP codes. This has allowed families to access a wider variety of public education and neighborhood resources, among many other benefits. Additionally, the overall cost of the program did not increase.

____________________________________________________________________

“While the goal is to give poor and working class families expanded access to opportunity, HUD also hopes to eliminate predatory landlords by reducing payments available to ZIP codes with lower rents.”

____________________________________________________________________

HUD’s proposal to move to Small Area FMRs is limited to select metro areas across the country that have significant rent differentials. While the goal is to give poor and working class families expanded access to opportunity, HUD also hopes to eliminate predatory landlords by reducing payments available to ZIP codes with lower rents. However, subsidies in poorer neighborhoods would decrease—a move that many landlords and tenant groups warn could increase evictions or force lower-income families to pay more rent.

The proposed changes are not final and are still subject to final review. HUD is seeking public comment by August 15 on the proposed rule. You can access the full proposal here.