Session 4 – How Do People in Need Get Access to Healthy Food?

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

Session Four Panelists


Mary Clulo
Director of Treasury and Tax
Munson Healthcare

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.


Val Stone
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 Olds
Parallel Solutions

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.

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.


Nancy Johnson
Pantry Leader
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.


Michelle Smith
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!”


Elizabeth Dunham
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.


Marcia Blackford
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

Jennifer Berkey
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. 

Our Partners