February 9 | 10:00-11:30 am EST
The fourth session focuses on how and where people in need get access to ‘healthy’ food. This session explores why ‘healthy’ food matters, and how people facing food insecurity know what type of ‘healthy’ food assistance is available. This session also explores how access to ‘healthy’ food has changed during COVID. Speakers and panelists share perspectives and insights regarding what works well about the way people learn about and get access to enough food that is ‘healthy’, what are the barriers to getting enough ‘healthy’ food, and potential solutions to address obstacles.
View the Pre-session Reading Materials to have a better understanding of the topics that are covered during Session Four.
Session Four Recording
- Good morning to all of you joining us. I can see that you have an interest or a passion in feeding hungry people. Today, you're going to learn more about resources and how to find healthy food in our region. Some of you who are new may not realize that the coalition is made up of 46 pantries, 16 meal sites and other partners to go with that. And our goal is to provide those foods needed by our local pantries. You'll hear more about the resources and also about some of the challenges and the gaps that we face. Last year, we served over 182,000 people, just in our pantry system. We concentrated on purchasing local, healthy food for each of our pantries. And thank you to the many in our community who are supporting our efforts for change. Our moderator, Megan Olds, owner of Parallel Solutions, who has been serving as our coordinator for the summer series, will introduce our speakers and read the polls during our session, Megan.
- Thank you, Val, and thank you everyone for joining us here today. If you were here last time, I'm just, I'm gonna make reminder here about how to use our Q and A and our chat functions. At the bottom of your zoom screens, you'll see two different buttons, one says chat. We'd like to invite you as participants today, to go ahead and engage with each other, introduce yourselves, pose questions to other participants using that chat feature. We'd like you to use the Q and A feature to pose questions to our speakers and our panelists. So at the end of our session today we will be having about 15 minutes of Q and A time. If at any time during the session today you have a question you'd like to ask a speaker, please put it in that Q and A box so that we can address it at the end of the session. To kick things off today, we are going to start with a video, a farm to neighbor video. If you participated in our last session, you heard from Taylor Moore, from Food Rescue and from Christina Barkel, from Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, as they shared some of their work with the Northwest Food Coalition's purchasing committee and the Farm to Neighbor Program, to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and distribute them to community members through local pantries and meal sites. The Farm to Neighbor Program began in January of 2018 with a seed grant from a local rotary and other donors and was motivated by addressing this question. "What factors affect the ability of someone facing food insecurity, to meet their nutritional needs?" Interestingly, the amount of fresh and healthy food in food pantries was identified as a key leverage point in that system. In 2018, Farm to Neighbor distributed roughly 8,000 pounds of fresh local food from seven farms. In 2019 Farm to Neighbor distributed 16,000 pounds of local food from 12 farms. The foods purchased have included parsnips, carrots, radishes, turnips, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, pears, acorn squash, butternut squash, apples, purple and golden beets and cabbage. This cooking video you're about to see was produced this year, to further reduce barriers and feature ways to use some of these fresh fruits and veggies available at pantries. The videos are available on the Northwest Food Coalition website, along with other videos.
- This salad shows that you really can eat a rainbow with fruits and vegetables. Let's get started. Here's what you'll need. Wash your hands with soap and warm water, rinse produce under cool running water. Cut the tops off the carrots and beets. Peel both vegetables. Using the large holes on your grater, grate the veggies. Next, grate the apple. Now for the dressing. You can mix the apple in or wait until right before serving. The beet will change the color of the apple. Beets are high in vitamin C, which is great for our immune system and a great source of fiber, that's good for our digestive system. Thank you to Food Corp, for sharing this recipe. Enjoy.
- Well it's great to see that rainbow on such a snowy Northern Michigan morning. We're gonna be talking today about healthy food, and in order to orient us to what healthy food is and why it matters, we are joined by Dr. Jean Kerver, Dr. Kerver, if you'd like to turn on your video. Good morning Jean. Dr. Kerver is the associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics with Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine. She is a Nutritional Epidemiologist and registered Dietician whose research agenda includes plans to conduct studies that will help uncover peri natal causes of childhood disorders, and also find effective ways to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors for families living in poverty or facing other challenges. Dr. Kerver's position is based here in Traverse City, Michigan. As part of a new effort by MSU's College of Human Medicine, to establish a statewide research network. Dr. Kerver, thank you so much for joining us here this morning.
- Hi, thanks everyone, I'm really happy to be here. And I wished I could cook as fast as, as Michelle prepared that salad, that was great. Megan said that I am located here in the region and I have, I'm here because we train medical students across the state. And so the circle there I put, is kind of the region where the medical students that I work with are sort of placed across the state. So partly I bring that up just to let you know that I'm here, and I'm not in East Lansing and I'm really engaged in local efforts. And so if anyone has, you know, future research ideas, please always feel free to contact me. Next. So as Megan said, I'm here sort of to orient us about like, what do we mean when we talk about healthy food? So like any good sort of professor, I'm gonna take you back a hundred years. So we're gonna talk a little bit about the history of defining diet quality. And I'm going to go way back to 1890 when this really the, a scientific break through by Dr. Atwater, where we really were able to quantify what exactly is in foods, what micronutrients in terms of vitamins and minerals, what macronutrients in terms of carbohydrate, fat and protein, things that provide calories. Way back then, we didn't really even, we hadn't even discovered all the specific vitamins that are essential to human health, so this was really a breakthrough, and way back then I'm gonna read you these two quotes. "The best food is that which is both most helpful and cheapest." And "The cheapest food is that which furnishes the largest amount of nutriment, or nutrition at the least cost." So I almost feel like here I can do like a mic drop and walk away. How do you improve upon that? This is still true today. I will say, instead of the best food, you definitely wanna include something about taste as well, but, advance please. So, again, this is really just to orient us all on the same page about what we mean by healthy food. And we have a history of sort of promoting this in this country, so this is a defined diet quality in the U.S, that I'm gonna talk about, but for different reasons. So really in the twenties, the government advice was focused on the safety of food storage. It's a time there were few home freezers and foodborne illness was common, so a lot of the sort of dietary advice was focused on food safety. A lot of people were dying of foodborne illness and a lot of children. And then moving into the 1930s, this is when sort of all of the vitamins had been discovered and there was a focus on specific vitamin mineral functions. So for example the U.S government advice was promoting things like, make sure you get enough calcium and phosphorus for your bones and teeth. Suppose a lot of the advice was focused on specific function, but then in the forties, this turned to sort of wartime guidance, and in a minute, I'll show you another slide with the poster from wartime guidance. And the focus then was really on conservation efforts. You know, one example was victory gardens. We're trying to pull the nation together to support, anything that supported the troops and part of what that did, part of a way to do that would be, was that we had sort of food shortages, so we had to teach people to grow their own gardens which were called victory gardens and sort of be more self-reliant, instead of going to the grocery store. And then in the fifties, to the mid seventies, you get sort of post-World War II dietary guidance, so if you can picture the posters of sort of like a June Cleaver type person, that's what was being promoted then. There was a big emphasis on family meals and healthy meals and budgeting for those healthy, family meals. But then in 77, which is in a way seems like just yesterday, but really is 45 years ago now, there was a Senate Committee, actually came to the conclusion, this is a quote from their final report there, that "Too much fat, too much sugar or salt, can be, are direct directly linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, stroke, among other killer diseases." So this is kind of a shift in, from trying to make sure everybody got enough food, to like noticing, oops, if everybody gets too much food or too much of certain kinds of foods, and that's the problem too. Back up. Thank you. So I really, I love this poster from the 1940s, so I wanted to show you. So it shows here, "For health, eat some food from each group every day." And then at the bottom, it says, "In addition to the basic seven, eat any other food you want." So again, I'm gonna point out a couple other things from this. If you look at the center here, it says, "U.S needs us strong, eat the basic seven everyday." So there was a big focus on, you know, we're helping out our country, we're eating, we're conserving, we're eating right. And then if you'll notice the group one, two and three, I don't know if you can read those, but they're green and yellow vegetables, orange, tomatoes and grapefruit, potatoes and other vegetables and fruits. So three of the seven groups were focused on fruits and vegetables and then there was milk and dairy group on meat, poultry, fish, egg group, and most certain you won't be able to read that, but at the bottom it says there, "Or dried beans, peas, nuts, or peanut butter." And so we've recognized even then you didn't need to eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs. And that was in part, the guidance at that point was for budgetary reasons, 'cause the dried beans and peas, nuts, peanut butter were cheaper than meat, poultry, fish and eggs. But then there was a bread and flour group and a fat group, butter and margarine, fortified with Vitamin A. So in a way, you know, I know a lot of people argue like, "Oh, science changes their mind all the time about what's good for you, what's good to eat." But I would kind of argue, not so much, our guidance isn't that much different today, really. But this is, you know, from the forties and it has evolved over time and you know, something small, small changes get a lot of attention, but in general, guidance is still about dietary patterns that you could kind of glean from this. Next one. And so this is a way to define diet quality worldwide. This is put out by an international group, international nutrition group and the idea is that if you focused on these four things, variety, adequacy, moderation and balance, that that is really what defines diet quality. And I'm gonna come back to these a little bit, but the idea is that, you know, you need variety within an across food groups because any one food doesn't really cut it. So different foods provide different aspects, so you need a lot of different foods in order to meet all of your nutrition requirements. And then as I was saying previously, a big focus is often on adequacy. So you wanna make sure you get enough of certain nutrients. And there are some micronutrient deficiencies still that we see in this country today. And so adequacy is still a really important thing to focus on. Moderation is just an acknowledgement that somethings, you know, you need to encourage people to cut back on, because they taste good and they're cheap and easy to access, and some things, you know, if we don't sort of acknowledge that and try to do something about it, then people might end up with just lots of foods of low nutrient density, so a lot of fat and salt, processed foods. So those are the kinds of things we need to moderate. And then just an overall balance is a recognition that when we talk about the composition of macro nutrient intake, we're talking about the nutrients that provide calories, protein and carbohydrate. And so, you know, we need to have, we need to balance that out with physical activity, so that's just the idea there. So all of this is in a way super common sense, easy to think about and hard to implement at the same time. And so this is kind of what, we're, what we're charged with, what we're challenged with when we're helping people address, you know, our clients our individual clients, or populations when we're helping people try to figure out how to access and eat healthy foods. So, okay, let's go to the next slide. Okay, so I'm gonna shift gears a little bit and talk about, so talk about, sort of, how do we know, how do we know these foods are healthy for us, and sort of what foods are they, and really, I'm just gonna go ahead and assert here that fruits and vegetables are most often, sort of the limiting factor in healthy, helpful diets. And so it's important though to keep the other things in mind, right? So we can't just, if people live on a cabbage farm or something and only eat cabbage, that's still not good, so we can't only focus on fruits and vegetables, but sort of from a population perspective, this is what's really lacking in most people and so this is just showing you the title here of an article published in the International Journal of Epidemiology pretty recently in 2017. This is a giant review where they combined a bunch of studies and looked at it in relation, looked at dietary intake across the world, in relation to, to premature deaths. So cancer and cardiovascular disease are the leading causes of death, and so what they found was this giant amount of fruits and vegetables really seven to 10 cups a day, is associated with lower cancer and cardiovascular disease. So this is, you know, a lot and most people are far below this, but it's really important to know and it's really cool to look at and to see like, if we really got people eating this much fruits and vegetables, it's certainly possible, some of us do it. Then we could save between five and 8 million premature deaths annually, due to low fruit and vegetable intake. So if you think of that and even think of it in terms of the current pandemic, like this is huge, there's a big public health impact to be made by increasing fruits and vegetables intakes. I should say it the other way, vegetables and fruits. The strongest associations were with cruciferous vegetables and green leafy vegetables. And another thing to point out is that there was definitely a dose response found, and that means that even though strongest effects seen were with these really high amounts of fruit and vegetable intake, and that's what really led to this large modeling effect of accounting for premature deaths, then, but there was a dose response. So every time you increase a little bit, then you do a little bit better and that's important to keep in mind. Weirdly, they found this kind of opposite effect from canned fruit, and I think that must be related to the, the sugar, the syrup in the canned fruit. So, canned fruit was not protective, but that's a little bit harder to tease out what that means. Okay, thank you, next slide. And so here, I'm just gonna point out, who in who in our country, this is U.S data, who eats enough fruits and vegetables and the truth is, almost no one. And so this is, I'm sure it's not surprising and this is not those seven to 10 cups a day, this is the, at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, 'cause this is what the recommendation is. And so you'd see on the left that less than 10% of men, meet the recommended intake in the U.S for fruits and vegetables, fruits or vegetables, you know, small, smaller, a larger amount of women meet this, but still not that many meet the recommendation, but definitely a significantly higher percentage of people not living in poverty were able to meet the vegetable recommendation. So this is where, you know, we've really, really need to do better with fresh fruits and vegetables for people living in poverty. And then overall in the whole us, there were no significant differences between race and ethnicity, but in 10 states, there was a significantly higher percentage of Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks that met the recommendation for intake, than did non- Hispanic whites, so, you know, little bit of variation among U.S, people across the U.S, but by far away, not meeting the recommendations. Okay, next slide. I don't think that's Here, I'm just gonna sort of reinforce this a little bit, by showing you some data from the Feeding America Study. This, and I don't think this will be a surprise for anyone, showed that this was, I think from 2015. And so it's a little bit dated already but even at that time over 10% of people experienced food insecurity in the previous year. We know this is much higher during the pandemic, but food banks and pantries serve 46 million people, that's just huge. This is a really, really important source of food for people and food insecure adults had 21% higher risk for high blood pressure and a 50% higher risk for diabetes. So these are people really, really at risk, where fresh fruits and vegetables could potentially make a big difference in their health outcomes. And so one thing that I know that in the, in this region, people we've been really successful at helping, food pantries have better food offerings. So food pantries have traditionally had higher access to shelf stable food and provide more highly processed, high in sodium and fat, low in nutrient density foods, and that's what we're trying to change in this region and have been very successful, due to a lot of efforts on people on this, in this summit. Next slide. So this, again, this is a, I'm just pointing out, this is a review that was done just last year, so this is from 2020. And so this is more recent data, and I just wanna point out that the diet quality was 20 points lower among food pantry clients than the U.S average, and so if you can see at that bottom of the slide, I just pointed out that the way they measured with this, was the healthy eating index, but this is just the measure from zero to a hundred and a hundred is the best. And the whole USA average is 59, which is kind of lousy, really, it's not very good for the whole U.S average, but among food pantry clients, diet quality was 20 points lower than that, so they're really, really a lot of room to improve on this. And in terms of, you know, adequacy how we talked about, 16 nutrients were found to be inadequate in the food pantry clients, and so, you know, that's truly atrocious when you think about it. You know, we can't, we don't want people in our country having micronutrient, vitamin, mineral deficiencies, it's just unacceptable. And at the same time, we see a much higher prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depressive symptoms. So this is, you know, brand new 2020 data and, and it's still a problem and probably gotten worse last year in this last year in the pandemic, so this is an area we really, as a country, need to improve on. Next slide. So I'm just gonna point out. One, this is a study that I'm involved in and I don't know how many people know about it but this was funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, we're in our third year, and I'm just bringing it up as a way to talk about one example of what we're trying to do in this region involving both the medical community and community partners. And so we were aiming to increase nutritional care coordination, to really decrease hospital readmission. That was our primary goal, and increase, you know, quality of life and economic impact. And as I said, this was funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and I listed here our sort of original partners, many of whom are on the call today, Meals on Wheels, Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan and the Northwest Food Coalition and sort of by Mary Clulo's brilliance, we were able to bring in, use some of our grant funds to fund ground works to just provide a little funding for some of the Farm to Neighbor stuff, so I think it's a great example of a sort of starting with one idea and growing and it's just a huge testament, I think, to the, the community partnerships in this region, they're really phenomenal and so I think that everyone on this call should be sort of proud of that as a region, and so we're always striving to sort of do better and that's what we're doing, and so that's all from me and I thank you for your attention.
- Thank you very much, Dr. Kerver for orienting us to healthy food, why it matters and some of the barriers. We wanna understand a little bit more about your perspectives now. So if you're a participant, you're going to see a poll appear on your screen here. We wanna know what is your level of awareness, regarding the availability and accessibility of healthy food for people experiencing food insecurity, so please go ahead and vote on that poll. Share your lens. We'll take about 10 more seconds to complete the poll. All right, last call here. Final votes in. All right, I'm gonna share the results with you now. It looks like 44% of you felt you were moderately aware, 27%, somewhat aware, 19%, extremely aware, 10%, slightly aware, 1% not at all aware. Thank you for participating today and letting us know where you're coming from, we hope you learn a bit more through the course of the session today. We have five additional speakers who are gonna be sharing their perspectives with us. These are gonna be sort of lightning round, 10 minute a piece stories from folks within our community who are working to provide access to healthy food or reduce barriers to accessibility. And so first I'd like to welcome Jennifer Murray. Just as a reminder to you all participants, if you have questions for Jennifer or any of the other panelists who are gonna be sharing, please put those in the Q and A box down at the bottom of your Zoom screen. Jennifer received her Bachelor in Nursing degree from Hope College in 1986 and a Master's Degree in Public Health Policy and Administration from the University of Michigan in 1992. And for 22 years, she worked as a Public Health Policy in Public Health Policy and Administration at the Genesee County Health Department and the Benzie Leelanau District Health Department. Most recently, Jennifer is the owner and president of JHM consulting, a public health and healthcare consulting company, specializing in the planning and implementation of maternal and child health programming and health systems design. Jennifer has been involved in promoting systems change across Northern Michigan for home city, home visits and perinatal substance abuse disorder and creating the clinical community linkage hubs for addressing social determinants of health, including food security needs. Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us here today.
- Well, thank you for having me, I appreciate it. I'm gonna just share my screen here and be able to move down my slides. Okay, great. Well, thank you again for having me. I'm gonna share with you about the Community Connections program which is an evidence-based navigation model that's available in our region and it's a part of the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region which also stands, or it's abbreviated, Northern Michigan CHIRE. Some of you may have seen this slide Aaron Barrett presented on the Mithrive, at the food summit number three, which is our community health assessment work. But I just wanted to kind of level set here for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Northern Michigan CHIRE, again which stands for Community Health Innovation Region. The CHIRE is a collaboration of cross sector partners and residents working together toward a shared community vision of health. And it's made up of these three intersected parts here. You could see Community Connections, which is our part of the model that provides services at the individual level. We provide navigation services, to help meet individuals' needs such as food, housing utility and other social determinants of health. And then the other two pieces there, the Mithrive is the community health assessment as well as the systems change piece, which works on a community and systems level, to make a positive changes in our community. So this is a map similar to Jean's, where you can see the Northern Michigan counties where we're currently providing our community connection, community health worker navigation services. These community health workers are employed by our health departments and you can see the different health departments by the different colors, and then the counties that they serve. You can see that we're spreading beyond our immediate, original 10 Northwest counties, which went from Emmet down to Wexford, Missaukee and over to Manistee. And we plan to expand to 31 counties which are highlighted there in the gray. So community connections is a free program. It connects adults children and families to community resources. So it provides just kind of that extra peer support from a community health worker to people that are having issues with social determinants of health, and we have especially seen that during our pandemic, you know, an increase and I'm gonna show you, you can see the increase in the food pathway and the need for navigation around food. And this services typically provided face to face with home visits or office visits, but during the pandemic we've definitely had an increase in phone calls and texts. And it's, as I mentioned it's a community health worker, peer based program and those community health workers are supported by registered nurses and social workers. And this slide just shows you the different pathways. So we are an evidence-based model. We are using a model out of the Pathway Community Hub Institute, which is founded by Sarah and Mark Redding. I'm gonna show you that website if you're interested in it later, but there's a variety of pathways and most important for today's discussion, is there's a food security pathway, so this evidence-based pathway really tells us how to provide that support to families so that they can get their food needs met. We receive referrals through screening that is done in 36 patient-centered medical homes. So physician offices who do screening around social determinants of health, and we also have over 20 community-based organizations who do make referrals to us, for those families they identify as needing that extra navigation. We receive those referrals either through a web portal, through paper, or we also have a way to make referrals on our Northern Michigan CHIRE website. This just shows you the screening questions that those physician offices and we do have some dental offices as well. These are the questions that we ask, and I just wanted you to see the food question that we ask. We ask, "In the past three months, have you had to eat less than you feel you should because there's not enough food?" And these are some other questions as well that we ask, it's a very comprehensive screening of a variety of needs. But if somebody says yes to that question, we ask a few more assessment questions. When we have that first visit, we ask if they have WIC or if they're enrolled in food stamps. We ask about their current and usual supply of food. Do they have access to healthy food in their terms? Do you have enough money for food? And do you have feeding concerns in regards to children or infants. And depending on how a person answers these questions, determines whether we're gonna open a food pathway and provide those intense navigation services. Once they're enrolled and say, yes, I do, you know, I have these needs, I would like your help, we just do another assessment, we ask these additional questions and these are the ones that we ask, you know, are they worried about foods, food running out before, you know, they had, and they don't have money to buy more, or the food we bought just didn't last and we didn't have money. We can't afford to eat balanced meals, so in their opinion, are they able to eat the balanced meals? We cut the size of our meals, or we skip meals, or we eat less than we felt we should, because there wasn't enough money for food and we were hungry. And this is assessed for each person in the household, so the adults, whether it's adults only, or rather it's children only, are there concerns or whether it's both. And we really try to meet the families where they are, you know, what is their situation and really how can we assist them the best? So this is our food pathway, as I mentioned, it's, evidence-based, I'm just gonna skip to the bottom right there. And really the evidence-based piece of this pathway tells us that the family really needs to say, I have no problems or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food for the past 30 days. So that's, you know, that's what the evidence says they need in order to be not having issues with the food security and hopefully they'll know how to navigate for food in the future based on our work together. So I meant I'm going to skip now back up to the top left, I mentioned the assessment questions. We then start our work, which is the middle of the pathway, where we work with the head of household to explore and secure, what are their food security options? We look at SNAP, we look at WIC and Food Pantries, Project Fresh, Double up Food Bucks, Congregate Meals, Baby Pantries, Meals on Wheels, you know, USDA food for farmers trucks. Most of our community health workers are really well connected to the food resources in those counties that I mentioned, so County specific access based on what's being offered there. And then we work with them, we have to follow up and make sure that the resources we gave them, actually met their need to get back again down to that bottom right, they have no problems or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food for the past 30 days. This is our community connections, food pathway data. So you can see here, this particular graph shows in 2019 which is the Navy and 2020, which is the green, the number of people that we had to assist and wanted assistance for accessing food. You can see the big jump during the pandemic, almost a hundred more pathways opened right here in 2020, we had almost 300 people that we assisted in accessing food. And then the next one, the middle set of bars, is who were we able to actually complete, to get to that evidence-based outcome? And you can see, we did have some success, we, you know, helped over 200 people, oops. We helped over 200 people complete that pathway, but there were some, and you can see in the right there, that we weren't able to complete the food pathway with over 50 people in 2020, and a little less than that in 2019. So still some barriers there to getting families connected. And the reason why those pathways are complete, we do have about 12% of our families that we're just, we lose contact with for a variety of reasons, these are the highest risk families in our community. We have 4% that once they started working with us, they then declined help for a variety of reasons. We didn't have any documented situations where people, where our community health worker said there was no food groups resource in our community, but we did have 5% of our families who just weren't income eligible for a food resource that they really felt like they needed. And so to me, that's a gap in our community for 5% of our people that just aren't income eligible, but yet, they really do need that food resource. In most cases, that was the snap benefits. And that was again, we were asked about what's our biggest barrier. Our biggest barrier that we see is that families are over income, when they need a resource and they just couldn't get it. And that was 15 families out of the 289 that we opened a pathway on. It may not seem much, it's still 5% and it's still 15 families that really needed food and weren't able to get it because they were over income. And I think it's not surprising during the pandemic, we had families that just were needing help with navigation that never, ever dreamed that they would need help. So we just saw a new set of individuals and families during the pandemic. I just wanna, we did share some stories that you guys could review before our summit today, but I just wanted to just share one little, quickly, a family story about a community health worker who was able to assist a gentleman. He had a need for food. He also had some mental health barriers and he was upfront about that. He really needed assistance filling out the paperwork for food assistance, because it really caused him to feel super overwhelmed. And he knew he could not get the verifications, all that verification that was needed and on time, without that community health worker help. So the community health worker really did help that family complete the paperwork as well as all the verification. And they also helped him get on disability, which he really needed. And so as that relationship developed between the community health worker and this gentleman, he then began to trust the community health worker and now they're working on getting behavioral health assistance for him, which couldn't have been the first thing that they decided to tackle, because it was just, that relationship wasn't developed, so I think it speaks to the power of a community health worker, working side-by-side with families and the multiple needs, not only just the food that they can help meet. So I wanna end with just a list of our hub coordinators and our hubs for you, as well as our website, for the Northern Michigan CHIRE, down in the bottom corner, you can use that website to make referrals and get people linked. So I appreciate you having me today, thank you so much.
- Thank you, Jennifer. Really appreciated you sharing both the data and the information about the pathways and the story about the family. And you can hear more stories from families who have participated in the pathways program, as Jennifer mentioned in your pre-read materials. Jennifer will also be joining us later for the Q and A, so if you have questions for her, please put them in the box, on the Q and a box on your screen. And now I'm going to welcome Marcia, Marcia Blackford. Hello, Marcia?
- Marcia is the owner of Marvin's Garden Spot, which is a farm and farm stand grocery in our community. Marsha pioneered accepting Project Fresh coupons at her market, and she's committed to enhancing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for community members who need assistance, especially women and children. She's a dedicated supporter and provider of fresh produce for Benzie area neighbors and for food pantries in the area. Marcia, thank you so much for joining us here today.
- Thank you for inviting me. As she said, I was invited to do this, I'm a little nervous, sorry, this isn't my forte, but one of our questions, was, what is healthy food? And to me, that is food that gives the body, the nutrition, nutrients you need for your health, but also to help you to feel good and to have energy. And our area of expertise is of course, fruits and vegetables. That's we grow a lot of the vegetables and our neighbors grow the fruits. And we have been growing and selling in the area, since the seventies. We were part of the Sarah Hardy market downtown for over 35 years, and then we decided to build our own area market, because we saw a need in our area for reasonable, fresh fruits and vegetables, that were locally grown to help the people in the area that were, it's hard for them to find them and then we could be open seven days a week, instead of just having to be open the days of the farmer's markets. There's a lot of programs that can help people in the area that need assistance to get food. We participate in four. We participate in Project Fresh, which is through the WIC program, Senior Market Fresh, Double up Food Bucks and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. We try to provide a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be used with these programs and try to help people to see who they would get in contact to if they see our signs up. If you sign a contract to do any of these programs, you must have your signs up that show that you do it. This would be a sign that shows that you accept the Project Fresh through WIC, this is our sign that shows that we do Double up Food Bucks, which is tied in with your bridge cards and the SNAP program. This is the Chippewa, the Ottawa Chippewa Band, we have to keep that one up, it's for their elders. And then there's also the Senior Project Fresh, market coupons that are for the seniors in the community. There's a big need for these. We do get a lot of people in, who are using these programs. If you see those signs anywhere, and you wanna know about the programs, you should be able to ask anyone there what the program is about, and if you feel like you fit into those programs, at least at our place, we'd be able to tell you kind of who to get in touch with, or what organization do you get in touch with. We try to make sure that are our prices are good so people can afford to buy them. We try to make sure that our stuff is fresh and as much as possible, locally grown to support ourselves and our local farmers. As I said, we've been growing for a long time, it started out as just a way to feed our family, because we were in that poverty level for many years with our five children. And so we could grow things, we found we could barter and trade, and get the meats and things that we needed that way. So we do understand about how people need to, to get into this and get help when things are tough. And we certainly enjoy actually visiting with these people. We have found that COVID has been a problem last year of course, it was for everybody. We were able to open as an essential business and we were glad of that, I know there were a lot of, of the farmer, farm market, or farmers markets that had some problems in implementing, some even didn't open. Therefore it made it even more important that we keep a good supply of things on hand, 'cause a lot of people came to us and we had to make a lot of changes to how many people could be in our market. Of course, social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting everything, it was a challenge, but we were able to do it. And we're thankful for the clientele that showed up to help us, we even did try to do some call in things in, at curb service, it was very difficult for us, because people would put in the orders and then when they'd get there, they'd want us to run back and forth and get more things for them, you don't always have time for that. But we did our best. COVID also provided a problem in that, we couldn't get some of the products 'cause it costs the farmers a lot more to raise their products because of the restrictions on how they could harvest, how many people they could have in the fields at a time, they had to test, ask all the questions to their workers before they could go out in the fields and they had to pay them for that time and some of them just found it was economically unfeasible for them to grow some things. So it was quite a challenge to get the things that we needed and the weather wasn't real good last year, so it was also a challenge to even grow them. But I just want to say that everybody did their best and we appreciated everybody who helped us to keep things there for our customers. But we did have to raise some prices, we were sad about that, but unfortunately that's just what happened, we still tried to keep our prices down, because even though you have these coupons and tokens and ways of, of getting the food, if it's too expensive, that doesn't go far enough. So we do recognize that because of COVID, the the Double up Program took the ceiling off of their $20 and so we can match whatever the people spend on their bridge card, we could match all the way up to whatever. And that helped to get more food out to people, which was a real helpful thing for us and for the people that we were serving. We know that it's a challenge to help people, but we try to take the time to do that, we find they try to buy mostly, we noticed that they mostly buy fruits and berries and other hand food with their coupons and their and their tokens and find it's usually because they don't know what to do with fresh vegetables. So I try to provide recipes for them, or help them to understand how they can cook them or even eat them raw, but to entice their children to eat them, and we really kind of tried to get them to spend a little more money on those fresh vegetables, because we feel it's important that they get that in their diet. I think communication is the hardest thing to help people to find ways to access these healthy foods. I know as being in that position at one time in my life, I didn't know where to go, I didn't know who to talk to and I needed help. And it's hard, it's hard on your pride and you don't wanna ask 20 people to find out, so I think we need to, the people who can do these programs, need to make sure to be diligent in watching and seeing people who might need these programs and help them to get steered in the right direction. And I just want you to know that we try to do that and are glad to be helpful to our community and provide things to some of the food pantries and help out the people in our community who have helped us in the past in raising our five children. And I appreciate that I had this opportunity to discuss this and thank you.
- Thank you, Marcia, thank you for your work in the community and for sharing your personal perspective with us and your own experiences. Marsha mentioned the Sarah Hardy Farmers Market and next we have joining us Elizabeth Dunham, who is the Outreach Coordinator and Sarah Hardy Farmers Market Manager. She works with Seeds Ecology and Education Centers. Seeds has been managing the Sarah Hardy Farmers Market for the past decade. The market is one of the largest growers only markets in the state of Michigan and serves over 100 vendors over the course of a season. Elizabeth is going to share today about the roles Seeds plays as market manager, and facilitating food assistance transactions between farmers and eligible customers to expand their access to local quality produce. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from James Madison College and Michigan State University. And prior to returning to her hometown of Kalkaska, she taught English abroad, in Chad, Jordan and Egypt. She also serves as a trustee for the Village of Kalkaska and is passionate about parks, trails, economic development and community building. Elizabeth, thank you for joining us here today.
- Thank you so much for having me today Megan. I'm really excited to talk about all things farmers market, and the food assistance programs that we provide there. Oops, I just made a new slide, instead of spreading the PowerPoints, why don't we get to that slide, just ignore it. All right, so an answer to the question on hand about healthy food, my response to healthy food is that it's food that provides the energy and nutrition needed to live a fulfilling life. Healthy food is often fresh food, not always, but often. And food assistance helps make healthy food that's grown here locally and fresh, more accessible. So a little background about the Sarah Hardy Farmers Market. It is located in the Traverse City and it's operated by the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. And as Megan said in her introduction, it's been managed by the local non-profit, Seeds Ecology and Education Centers since 2011. It's one of the largest growers only farmers market, and serves over 115 vendors throughout the season, which has traditionally been May through October, and it puts a heavy priority on fresh food vendors. We did go online and last year in response to the pandemic last may, and we have continued to be online and are online right now, in what would usually be our off season, operating under the Workshop Growing Company. So one of our main tasks at the farmers market is facilitating the different food assistance programs that are accepted at the Sarah Harding farmers Markets. This increases the accessibility of this really valuable, healthy food to our customers. And it also supports our farmers with more sales. And we do this out of our little market office, that you can find at the farmer's market locally.
- [Mary] So Elizabeth, it sounds like we're having some sound issues from you right now, I think you're frozen, so we may ask you to rejoin us if for some reason you continue to have bandwidth issues.
- Okay, just a little bit there. I'm going to move to a different location and see if that helps.
- [Mary] Megan, do we maybe want to. See if, if we continue to have this issue, maybe we can move to someone else, and then.
- [Megan] Yeah, let's see if her moving gives us some better bandwidth and if we continue to have issues, we can move on to hearing from Michelle Smith.
- How about this, can you hear me better now?
- [Megan] Yes, it is clearer now, go ahead Elizabeth.
- Okay, would you like me to back up or just proceed from where I am?
- [Megan] I think from this slide is great, if you wanna, just.
- Okay, my apologies. So, here you can see some of our EBT tokens, which come from a customer who has a branch card. They can bring that to the market office and let us know how much they would like to take off of their account, which we give them back in these wooden dollar tokens, which can be spent on any food item at the market. We have someone match that money in the silver Double up Food Bucks tokens. Those are $2 and they can be used specifically on fresh fruits and vegetables. So if a customer comes and they take $20 off of their bridge card, then they're gonna get $20 in the EBT tokens, and they're also gonna get $20 of the Double up Food Bucks tokens, so they're going to have $40 to spend at the market. Usually there's a $20 daily matching limit, but that has been removed due to the pandemic and it is still currently removed. And also the issuance of pandemic EBT, increased the number of families eligible for these benefits. We also accept Project Fresh and Senior Project Fresh. These are common paper coupons that customers receive from local agencies. The project fresh coupons are $5 and they're for fresh produce only and the Senior Project Fresh $2 paper coupons for fresh produce, and honey. Prescriptions for health is another, it's a newer program to us and you're gonna hear more about it in the next presentation, that does this through and customers with these prescriptions can come and learn about what is in season, the health benefits of what's in season and some recipes on how to prepare it. And then they receive $5 wooden tokens that are also just for fresh produce. And then one other program that is accepted at our markets, there are a few vendors who accept Hoophouse for Health. Monies, and that's a transaction directly between the farmer and the customer. Providing these food assistance programs does bring in like a financial impact into our market. In 2019, we reimbursed nearly $45,000 in food assistance monies, and then 2020, we did nearly $37,000. Last year, we were unable to do the prescriptions for health because we weren't able to have that education in person component, but the EBT and the Double up Food Bucks monies did increase. And we noticed as market staff, that customers one day, could get more of a match. They would often go above the usual $20 amount. That was usually the most common and we took that as an indicator that people want to use these programs, they want to be able to purchase locally, fresh produce. So in conclusion, food assistance programs, make healthy local food, more accessible to more customers in our region. They bring in revenue to farmers and ways to support, ways to increase the great impact that food assistance programs have, is to increase the promotion and outreach for signing up and using programs that exist already, increased education about preparing fresh food, like a lot of the other presenters have talked about, and then provide funding to markets and stores facilitating these programs to continue making them happen. Actions you can take is to of course, shop at your local farmer's market, learn about the food assistance programs that are currently accepted, so that you can share that information with your networks and of course, follow and support your local farmers market online. What that means for Sarah Hardy is you can shop the market online right now, by searching Sarah Hardy Downtown Farmers Market online. And we are currently facilitating EBT and Double up Food Bucks transactions online right now, so if a customer has questions about that, they can send us an email to learn how to get started and to maximize their benefits. And that is all, thank you so much for having me today, I apologize for the sound and bandwidth connections. As you see, it's a different background.
- We just got to see a new space in your house. Thank you Elizabeth, for your grace in navigating the technology issues, and thank you to all of our participants for your patience with this process as well. If you do have questions for Elizabeth, please do put them in the Q and A box. We know just based on time, we're not gonna have a ton of time for Q and A today, live with our participants, but we have asked our panelists and speakers to go ahead and answer those questions as you place them in the box, if they're able. So we hope to get through all your questions, whether we can do them live or not. I'm going to welcome next, Michelle Smith. Michelle, if you could join us. Hello, Michelle?
- Good morning. Michelle is with the Fruit and Veggie RX program from Grand Traverse County Extension, and you may have recognized her, she was the chef in the video at the very beginning of today's session. Michelle works within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in district, district three, which covers Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Antrim counties, as the Community Nutrition Instructor. She teaches youth and adults how to eat and cook healthy, while staying on a budget. She's been with MSU extension since 2012. She's a graduate of MSU and the program of dietetics, with an emphasis on health promotion. She became a registered dietician in 1998 and since then she's been expanding her expertise and working within the public health sector, and when she's not working, she loves to read and ski and horseback ride and hang out with her children and we're so glad to have you here today. Michelle, thanks for joining us.
- Yeah, thank you, Megan. When I was asked to be part of today's panel, I was given several questions to answer just as the other panelists. And one of those questions is, "What is healthy food?" And I would have to define healthy food as food providing needed nutrients. Nutrients that the body does not make for us, from the five food groups, the fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. And I appreciated Dr. Kerver's discussion earlier in showing that these guidelines and the models since 1940 haven't changed a whole lot, have they? And it was kind of exciting to see, and now we're looking at say the, my plate and half of my plate is fruits and vegetables, and it's very similar to three of the, or four of the seven groups that Dr. Kerver showed were fruits and vegetables also. So it was very interesting and I appreciated that history. Also food that is consumed. We can define healthy food, but we need to consume it. Food can be healthy, but if not consumed well, then what is the point? We must meet people where they are at and look at all forms of food that include canned, frozen and fresh. If I have outside stressors overwhelming my life, am I apt to take sacred time, energy resources to create a meal for myself or my family? Probably not. Food often takes a back seat. We need to encourage simple, few ingredient ideas, recipes that are nutrient dense. We must meet people where they are at that moment and connect with them. As community nutrition instructors at Michigan State University Extension, we provide free classes that cover nutrition, cooking skills, food, safety, physical activity, for community members who are eligible and or are receiving Michigan's bridge card, which is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In the last couple of years in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties, Jane Rapid and I have partnered with Munson Healthcare Shape up North. Shape up North develop the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, funded by the Allen Foundation, where patients with chronic disease were referred by their doctor to participate in the program. Participants in the program received nutrition education at the farmer's market. There were three farmer's markets, there's Sarah Hardy, which you heard from, with Elizabeth. There was the Commons Farmer's Market in Traverse City, also and Grow Benzie in Benzie County. Using an evidence-based curriculum, called Discover Michigan Fresh. They also received a tour of the market, cooking demonstrations and tastings that featured a vegetable or fruit that could be found at the market that week. After each lesson, participants receive market tokens to redeem fresh fruits, vegetables and plant seedlings. This program has been well-received by referred patients. Participants noted on their surveys that the market tour increased their comfort level of interacting with the farmers and improve their confidence in using the bridge card for the Double up Food Bucks program. The program has shown to improve attitudes and behaviors in shopping for fruits and vegetables and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables at the market. We heard many success stories of participants trying a tasting of a certain vegetable and using their coupons to purchase the vegetable to make the recipe at home. Recipes used for the tastings were simple. They used common ingredients and we're always budget friendly. When addressing what has changed in the last year, and my role as a community nutrition instructor at MSU extension, we have moved from the face-to-face education to virtual classes. This has created new partnerships during the pandemic, months in healthcare in Wexford, Manistee, Crawford and Missaukee counties have partnered with District Health Department 10, to provide the Prescription for Health program. For this program, once it recruits participants an MSU extension provides nutrition education. With the funding provided through DHD 10, participants receive honor dollar vouchers for completing our classes. Vouchers can be used on fruits and vegetables at participating stores. We are six months into this pilot program and hope to expand this year to include local farmers markets. Some of the curriculum provided in these classes are Cooking for One and Eat Healthy, be Active series. And finally, the question, one of the last questions to address is to identify one significant barrier that community members seeking to access healthy food and what obstacles or how can we address those obstacles? And in thinking about this question there are many barriers to consider. But after talking with my coworker, Jane, we continue to come back to stigma as the significant barrier. Stigma of seeking help or asking for help. We see it in families with school aged children and a reluctance to fill the paperwork, for free and or reduced lunch at school. I myself have struggled with filling out this paperwork. We see it with our senior population in this stigma of asking for help. Many seniors meet the eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits, but for many reasons, do not access these benefits. Also, we see a large section of service workers that may have been getting by before COVID-19, but now are needing to seek assistance but may be reluctant to do so. We see it with our teen population. Will the teen go to a breakfast, a free breakfast with other teens around? During the pandemic, breakfast is free for all. So how do we get more kids to get the food they need? Just an idea, set up maybe a table at the entrance door with students handing out the bags of breakfast to go items. Just a thought. I love hearing about the food pantry at the Traverse City High School, which you've heard about in previous sessions, where they have an open, where they have their food pantry open all the time and kids can walk in and grab a snack or what they need. If everyone goes into this room to get some food or a snack, this reduces the stigma. What we have seen as part of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, that is, that maybe there isn't as much stigma. The model of seeing a doctor or someone at the health department and prescribed you go to a farmer's market to receive education coupons. This reduces the need to ask for help. At a farmer's market, there are all socioeconomic demographics shopping together. Everyone can come to the table to receive recipes. This may decrease the stigma and it is a great open format. And I would love to see these types of programs expanded throughout the state of Michigan. That completes my panel discussion, it is a pleasure to be a part of this amazing panel today, and thank you for having me.
- Thank you, Michelle, and thank you for sharing your thoughts on the barriers that mirrored a lot of what Marcia shared as well, related to stigma, just communicating about needs. Next, we have our final panelists joining us, Nancy Johnson. Nancy, thank you for being here today. Nancy is the pantry leader at Grace Episcopal Pantry, here in Traverse City. She's run the pantry at Grace for several years since retiring. Before retiring, Nancy was a dietician and nutrition instructor at the Nursing School with Michigan State University. And she's also been a Special Education Instructor. She served on the steering committee and the operating committee and the purchasing committee of the Northwest Food Coalition since 2016. Nancy, thanks for being here to share your experiences.
- Thank you, I'm happy to be here. As with other people, I define, I needed to define healthy food and I feel that healthy food is a combination of nutritional, nutritious food blended into a balanced meal which satisfies the palette of the consumers. If they won't eat it, it's lost, it's not even healthy for them. So I feel that it is giving them food they will eat or explore new foods and have a balanced meal. At Grace Episcopal Food Pantry where I'm coordinator, like many of the local pantries, it's an all volunteer pantry, funded and stocked by donated money and food. This includes donations from the church family and the community, including partner churches and local food drives. Our food also comes from the church garden, Food Rescue, Farm to Neighbor, COVID Relief Fund and the local Food Relief Fund. Any additional food is purchased from a local grocery store. We serve many of the homeless community, mostly in the summer, since Jubilee House is also a Grace Ministry and they're nearby. We also serve the formerly homeless, living in housing and individuals and families needing food assistance, short-term and long-term. We can provide healthier food for those who have a refrigerator, a microwave, and or arrange for cooking. Those individuals living in the woods and the outdoors elsewhere have no refrigeration and no protective spaces for food. Thus, they are often limited to cans that the wildlife cannot delve into. This certainly limits what the program at their grace can provide for them. However, we do stock a great deal of canned pasta of some type, that has some protein in it, some meat, especially for them, not the healthiest, but it helps keep them alive. For individuals and families living in apartments and or homes, we can give a vast array of food, with plenty of fresh produce, dairy and meat. We also give them their choice of meal kits from a selection of over 30 different meals. Normally they choose the fresh produce meats, meal kits and other normal pantry foods. However COVID has prevented us from offering that shopping experience where each client can choose his or her own food from a list geared for different family sizes and assisted by a pantry volunteer. Presently, we are doing curbside service with three bag food selections. Since our numbers are down, we have been able to give a substantial increase in the amount of food, which is good because we're not looking to throw in something they don't need, but maybe it's an extra meal for them. We actually know many of our clients and their food preferences and limitations. Actually, after writing my thoughts down for this presentation, I worked at our pantry again. Afterwards, I realized that the other volunteer and I automatically tailored every client's groceries, according to each client's dietary and ethnic needs and preferences. It is a matter of course for us. Also, we are not at grocery or convenience store and yet we try to stock as much choices and different foods for our clients. Lack of knowledge on what to cook and how to cook the items, and apathy is a valid concern for us. So as I mentioned, we provide over 30 meal kits with recipes from which they may choose. And so I brought a few. First one, is, we always put a recipe in the bag and this one is for Shepherd's pie, one of my favorites, because it incorporates any leftovers they have, we've given them the mashed potatoes. And this one we decided we just had a lot of mushrooms canned up mushrooms so they got something. They get some kind of binder, in this case a can of soup. This was golden mushroom soup that given to us from a food drive. And then I always include a vegetable. This one happens to be mixed vegetables. Whether they use the canned veggies or not is up to them, because as I said, the recipe incorporates all kinds of leftovers and we give them the hints of what to use, what kind of meat to put in, or what, is a meat substitute. We also give out, and this is a good time, this would be good on top the mashed potatoes. We give out shredded cheese. And this goes for many of the meal kits that needs some cheese. So that happens. This one, because the Mexican type flavors are really big right now, and this one is for quick tamale. It's a casserole with the tamale ingredients, and they get a can of tomatoes. I once had somebody before we went to meal kits, ask me what could she do with a can of tomatoes? And what was going around in my head nonstop, was about 1,000,001 different things to do with a can of tomatoes. So now we help them. A muffin mix, corn muffin mix. These are donated to us very frequently and this is one of the really good uses we have for them. Some corn, fresh vegetables would be even better. Green chilies, can of chicken, so they have the protein right there. They choose not to use this. Wanna use some fresh fruit, meat? That's that's fantastic. This would also be good with a little mayo for a sandwich. So they have options, we're not there policing what they do. We also have green chilies, another wonderful donation that we received. And of course the cheese soup. This one is becoming a little bit difficult to find, but it gives them a little bit of variety. And again, they can use the cheese that we give them. My last one that I'll go through very quickly, is Calico Casserole, and this one is geared towards all those wonderful beans that we get at the pantry. So this one we put in and this varies, Pinto beans, red beans, and the I think just two beans. We also add sliced potatoes. We get these donated to us most of the time and corn again, but any vegetable will do, especially if it's fresh and then Fiesta cheese soup, and that chicken, and this is, this is so wonderful. We have been getting so many cans of this and I know that if they get this, they will have a good meal and they can certainly add to it, we encourage them to do that. So we have been working on these meal kits for a long time and everyone has a recipe in it. We do give out other recipes and orally tell people how to cook a vegetable for instance, that might be new to them. I even explained to someone how to use an overgrown zucchini and to scoop out the seeds and then put in a mixture in the middle and put it in the oven. As trying to gear up more and more in helping our clients, learn how to do things. We will be offering a once a week, three week cooking class at Grace in May, when hopefully such an endeavor will be possible due to COVID. We have already postponed this class three times. We want to do it in person, we want that interaction and we will then provide all the food and all the equipment needed to prepare the items along with the demos on how to cook those food items. We are going to be giving them an immersion, inversion pad, so that they can cook wherever they are, as we have some people who sometimes are in a motel room. The emphasis of the cooking class will be on fresh produce. We also have a fantastic cookbook to give them, with lots and lots of color pictures. And as I mentioned before, most of the area pantries operate in a similar way, although the multiple meal kits are more prevalent at Grace and that is my presentation. Thank you.
- Thank you, Nancy. And thank you for sharing information about your upcoming cooking classes. I think that just reinforced how innovative some of our pantries are being in our community in terms of reducing barriers. I'm gonna invite all of our panelists and speakers to join us now for just a few minutes of Q and A, before we wrap things up here today. So if all of our speakers and panelists can join us. Some of our speakers and panelists have been answering your questions as you've post them in the Q and A, hope you've had a chance to read those responses. So we just have time for maybe two questions here, I'm going to take them in the order they were shared. Their first question we have is, "How could pantries increase access to healthy foods?" Who would like to share a response to that question? Perhaps someone Mary, or Nancy, someone who's involved in a pantry at the local level.
- I actually, I think we are, we're, I'm always striving to improve. And again, we have to balance each group, type group of people, when we have the homeless who are not can take a can. That means we have to, we have to stock can openers in the summer and versus a person who can cook, we try to match the food too, with their expertise. We're doing prob, we can improve, but we're doing the best we can at the moment.
- Great, thank you, Nancy.
- I'll add that the coalition started the Farm to Neighbor Program which we talked about in our second session, especially where we are purchasing fresh, local produce from our local farmers and getting that in. We had a tremendous grant also from Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, as well as some private donors that have really supported that, so we are increasing significantly the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, which Jean, thank you for pointing out the critical importance of doing that. But I think it will also take a mind shift with pantries in order to purposefully stock items and that's resources too, as opposed to trying to make do with just donated items, because not everything that's donated would be in the health food category, although as Jean answered in one of the questions, thinking holistically and combining items as Nancy has shown, can make a healthy meal that's appealing.
- Great, thank you, Mary. We have another question here related to cooking classes. This is at Grace, but I think this could be applied anywhere. "Is transportation a barrier?" This was related to cooking classes at Grace, so we've talked about how food insecurity is a complex issue tied to many other issues like transportation, housing and other challenges. What about transportation? Anyone want to share lens on transportation barriers? Michelle you've done the classes, what, what kind of barriers have you seen related to cooking classes and barriers?
- Yeah, definitely, transportation is a barrier, childcare also, I guess, a positive of COVID in doing the virtual classes, is if there is, they do have the technology at home, we are able to do classes online, which we've been doing, but even before COVID and hopefully soon we can get face to face and do hands-on cooking and nutrition classes. We try to have the classes in a community building where it's close to say the, a bus stop. We take that into consideration, or choosing hours where it might be easier to take a bus or other types of transportation, but transportation and childcare, we see as huge barriers to cooking classes.
- Great, thank you. I will take one more question here. The final question is, "Is the cookbook shareable? We'd love to see it and share it in Traverse City." Nancy, this may have been related to you.
- This is, right now, I'm working on a collection of bean recipes which I will consider public domain. I might put a, I might put the person who offered his name on the bottom, at least first name and last initial. But what we're gonna use for the class, is just a second, I got it. "How To Cook Everything," of course you're seeing it reversed. It is Mark Bittman's book and you look at, you know, I can open any place in it and it's got color. It has wonderful suggestions how to prepare things and alternatives if you want it different. So this is going to be, this is gonna be the backbone of what we present in may. It took some funding for that. And we did receive the, the funding, especially through Groundworks and public health.
- Thank you. Well, I think probably a lot of great recipe resources out there, maybe that's an opportunity for us to pool those together and put them on the coalition website to share, something we could discuss.
- Yep, Megan, recipe links are already on the coalition website, some MSUE tremendous resource. So thank you to our partner there, and perhaps we can get a few more links from them, they've done, Michigan state has done amazing work in this area.
- Great, well, thank you so much. I just wanna say thank you to all of our speakers and panelists today, the information you shared was so rich and meaningful and your expertise and experiences really came through in what you shared today. So thank you for your work in the community and for sharing with all of our participants today. I do wanna just give an opportunity to know that you can share your feedback with us. We have two more sessions to go here. Our next session session five, is on February 23rd and it is related to values. The values underlying our choices and behaviors, related to food security. And we hope you can join us for that session. You will also receive an evaluation form where you can let us know what you liked about this session and what you'd like to see us address in the future. And I will turn things over to Mary here, just for some closing remarks.
- Well, I thank you to everybody for participating again and joining our journey, I think the sharing of information, and as Jean pointed out, the tremendous interconnectedness we have in working on this issue. It can make a tremendous impact, it is making a tremendous impact. And I think together we can make even a greater impact with this shared knowledge and shared resources. So thank you, please continue to work together.
- Thank you everyone, hope you have a great day.
Session Four Panelists
Director of Treasury and Tax
Mary works in Munson Healthcare in the Treasury department. She ran the food pantry for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church for 18 years as a volunteer leader. She has served as the chair of the Operating Committee of the Northwest Food Coalition since March of 2018. Mary also participated on the systems team that created the Food Security System Map. She has a B. A. in business administration from University of Notre Dame and a Masters of Public Health Administration from the University of Chicago.
Food Coalition Coordinator, Food Rescue Coordinator
Goodwill Industries of Northwest Michigan
Bachelor of Social Work, Central Michigan University
Val works for Goodwill in the Food Rescue program. She coordinates the Northwest Food Coalition monthly member meetings and the gathering of pantry and meal site statistics on people served. She organizes collaborative activities for members such as food drives. She has experience with many food programs serving Northwest Michigan such as Commodity Foods. Val served as a Community Service Coordinator for 27 years at the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA). During her time at NMCAA, Val helped found the Northwest Food Coalition in 1994. While coordinating the Food Coalition, Val also helped start Food Rescue in 2009.
She is a Traverse City native and lives there with her husband and partner in crime. She loves art and floral design.
Megan has spent her career dedicated to community growth and development, land and water conservation and restoration, food and farming systems, housing, transportation, and access to nature and outdoor recreation. Pairing her professional experience in community and organizational development with a personal zeal for building trust and openness in decision-making, Megan founded Parallel Solutions in 2014. http://www.parallelmi.com
She is a 1999 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies/Western College Program. She earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University, and pursued additional training in mediation, mindfulness, and workplace diversity.
Grace Episcopal Pantry
B.A. University of Minnesota
M.A. Dieletics and Food Administration, Michigan State University
Nancy has run the pantry at Grace in Traverse City for several years since her retirement. Before retiring, Nancy was a dietician and nutrition instructor in the nursing school of Michigan State University. She has also been a Special Education instructor. Nancy has served on the Steering Committee, then Operating Committee since 2016.
Fruit & Veggie Rx program
Grand Traverse County Extension
Michelle works within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in District 3, covering Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Antrim counties.
“As a Community Nutrition Instructor, I teach youth and adults how to eat and cook healthy while staying on a budget. I have been with MSU Extension since 2012. I graduated from my beloved MSU in the program of Dietetics with an emphasis on health promotion. I became a Registered Dietitian in 1998 and have loved growing and expanding my expertise in the clinical setting and in the public health sector. When I’m not working, I love to read, ski, horseback ride and hang out with my children. I am and will always be the biggest Sparty fan! Go Green!”
Outreach Coordinator and Sara Hardy Farmers Market Manager
SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers
Elizabeth is the current market manager of the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market, which has been managed by SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers for the past decade. The market is one of the largest growers-only markets in the state and serves over 100 vendors over the course of the season. An integral piece of SEEDS role as market manager is to facilitate food assistance transactions between farmers and eligible customers, expanding access to local, quality produce and other food items.
Elizabeth holds a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Prior to returning to her hometown of Kalkaska, she taught English abroad in Chad, Jordan, and Egypt. She serves as a trustee for the Village of Kalkaska, and is passionate about parks, trails, economic development, and community building.
Jenifer Murray MPH, RN
HUB Director – Community Connections NMCHIR
Grant Coordinator for Region 2 & 3 Perinatal Quality Collaborative
JHM Consulting, LLC
Jenifer Murray received her bachelor in nursing degree from Hope College in 1986. After graduation, she worked in pediatric nursing at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, public health nursing for Oakland County Health Department and high risk Obstetrical nursing at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor. In 1992, she received her Master in Public Health Policy and Administration from the University of Michigan. For 22 years she worked in Public Health Administration at the Genesee County Health Department and the Benzie – Leelanau District Health Department. As the nursing administrator and Health Officer, she was responsible for overseeing the Clinical Services, Maternal Child Health Programs, Environmental Health Programs and all administrative responsibilities associated with the Department. Most recently, Jenifer is the owner and president of JHM Consulting, a public health and health care consulting company. Specializing in the planning and implementation of Maternal and Child Health programming and health systems design, Jenifer has been involved in promoting systems change in northern Michigan for home visiting, perinatal substance use disorder and creating Clinical Community Linkage HUBS for those experiencing negative conditions in the places where they live, learn, work, and play.
Owner of Marvin’s Garden Spot
Marvin’s Garden Spot is a farm and farm-stand/grocery. Marcia pioneered accepting Project Fresh coupons at her market for food insecure people and especially women and children. She is a big supporter with fresh produce for Benzie food pantries.
Jean Kerver, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Jean Kerver is a nutritional epidemiologist and a registered dietitian whose research agenda includes plans to conduct studies that will help uncover perinatal causes of childhood disorders and also find effective ways to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors for families living in poverty or facing other challenges. Dr. Kerver’s position is based in Traverse City, Michigan, as part of a new effort by MSU’s College of Human Medicine to establish a statewide research network.
Facilitator/ Technical Support
District Director – District 3
Michigan State University Extension
Jennifer serves as the District Three Director and provides administrative oversight for the six county MSU Extension offices in Northwest Lower Michigan including; Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Kalkaska and Manistee Counties. She has worked for MSU Extension for 22 years and prior to this assignment she worked as an extension educator providing supervision for SNAP-Ed nutrition instructors as well as taught food safety education for the community. She has been active in multiple leadership positions within her community; PTO president at two schools as well as served as President of MEAFCS (Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science Educators). Jennifer has been an active member of the Northwest Food Coalition by linking the nutrition and food safety resources to the pantry members.
She lives in Traverse City with her two daughters and her golden doodle. Jennifer enjoys participating in her daughter’s school and sporting events as well as hiking on our beautiful northern Michigan trails or boating on the bay.