Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan budget into law on July 14, investing not only in per-pupil funding but also securing $9.3 million in funding for the 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms program.
10 Cents a Meal is a state-funded match incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes for schools, early childhood education centers, and other organizations participating in USDA Child Nutrition programs.
“Under this historic education bill, we have again more than doubled funding for this program that offers healthy, affordable meals to our kids,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release. “As we continue our economic jumpstart, we have to make sure everyone has the resources and support they need to succeed. I am grateful to the Michigan Department of Education and legislators for coming together to get this done for our kids.”
The program started with a $250,000 state pilot in 2016 and has doubled in appropriation every year in the last two years, from $2 million in FY ‘21 to $4.5 million in FY ‘22 to $9.3 million for FY ‘23.
From 143 grantees for the 2020-21 school year to 257 for the 2021-22 school year, the program has grown significantly with nearly an 80% increase in grant recipients in the last year.
"One of my proudest accomplishments during my legislative tenure has been the growth of 10 Cents a Meal,” Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 and Michigan Department of Education, and the program’s key legislative champion, said in a statement. “This program is critically-important in getting fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables to our students. I have been thrilled to see the statewide growth of the program and could not be happier to see funding grow to $9.3 million for the upcoming fiscal year.”
The budget language changes reporting requirements for schools and other grantees along with the additional funding. It adds foods purchased for supporting farm to school activities as eligible use of the funds.
“The change in reporting requirements and allowing grant funds to be used for supportive farm to school activities will make it easier for food program managers to complete the administrative needs of the program and to expand their efforts,” Melanie Wong, dietitian and Farm to ECE Specialist for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, said.