Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Announces $2 Million in Support for Regional Food System Initiative

In Press Release

Healthy Food Connect Initiative Provides Funding to Nonprofits Working to Improve Healthy Food Access for Children and Seniors

DETROIT, MI – The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan today announced it will award $2 million in grants to 20 programs designed to improve healthy food access for children and seniors in southeast Michigan. The grants are part of a two-year regional initiative called Healthy Food Connect, funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Community Foundation.

Children and seniors are the two groups most affected by food insecurity in the seven-county region, and overall more than 780,000 people do not have consistent access to the foods they need to live healthy lives.

The Community Foundation’s Healthy Food Connect initiative seeks to connect children and seniors throughout the region to the people, places, programs and services necessary to ensure they have healthy food options every day. Through grantmaking and a series of coordinated education and training efforts, Healthy Food Connect will support and grow existing exemplary activities; extend the geographic reach and scope of successful programs; and foster additional collaboration and innovation in the regional food system network.

“We are pleased to support a diverse group of nonprofit organizations in pooling their collective expertise and resources to make a difference in the lives of children and seniors,” said Mariam C. Noland, president of the Community Foundation. “This is one of the largest regional healthy food access initiatives ever undertaken in southeast Michigan, and we believe it is going to have an impact on our youngest and oldest residents for years to come.”

Healthy Food Connect grants support projects that are collaborative, innovative and directly linked to food and health. Priority was given to projects with a strong health component, as well as those designed to expand or replicate successful food access projects or take innovative approaches to existing problems. Applications were accepted from partnerships of two or more organizations working together. The 20 programs funded reflect the collaborative efforts of 72 organizations across all seven counties of southeast Michigan.

Two different levels of funding were available.  Leadership grants of up to $200,000 were made to support larger scale programs with the potential for systemic impact.  Local impact grants of up to $75,000 were made to support projects with a smaller reach and/or that test out new ideas.

Healthy Food Connect Leadership Grantees are:

Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corp: $135,000 to support the expansion and coordination of fresh food pop-up markets selling affordable healthy food in southeast Michigan. Partners: Detroit Food Academy, FoodLab Detroit, Eastern Market Corp, Healthy Detroit, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, YMCA of Metro Detroit, Groundwerx CI and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Elder Law of Michigan: $200,000 to support an integrated system to improve participation by eligible seniors in food assistance programs in the region. Partners: MiCAFE network partners, Michigan Farmers Market Association, Fair Food Network, Wayne State University and Area Agencies on Aging.

Fair Food Network: $180,000 to support the expansion of regional access to local fresh food, school garden programs and education about healthy food preparation, nutrition and physical exercise. Partners: FoodCorps, Detroit School Garden Collaborative, Wayne State University Center for School Health and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

Food Gatherers: $200,000 to support the Fresh Produce Conversion Program, which makes surplus fresh produce more easy to obtain and use by low income youth and seniors in Washtenaw County. Partners: Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, Community Action Network, SOS Community Services and Eastern Michigan University.

Forgotten Harvest:  $136,000 to support Fresh Food Alliance, a regional program to connect food providers with local grocers who will donate food for distribution that would otherwise go to waste. Partners: Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s Green Grocer Project, Associated Food & Petroleum Dealers, Tri-County Grocery Stores and other food retailers and emergency food providers.

Gleaners Community Food Bank Inc:  $200,000 to support environmental and systems changes to food pantries in the region, including improved signage, refrigeration and shelving designed to prioritize fruits and vegetables in client shopping.  Partners: Forgotten Harvest, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, and nine food pantries: Capuchin Services Center, Community Christian Church, Food Hub at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center, Hospitality House, Liberty Family Outreach, Lord’s Harvest Pantry, Redford Interfaith Relief, Shared Harvest and Twelfth Street Food Pantry.

Livingston County United Way, $145,000 to expand and enhance the existing food system to meet the needs of the entire county. Partners: Salvation Army, Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency, LACASA and Gleaners Community Food Bank.

Healthy Food Connect Local Impact Grantees are:

Area Agency on Aging 1-B:  $47,000 to pilot MI Senior FEAST (Friends Eating And Socializing Together), which will provide group meals in restaurant settings for the Middle Eastern population and older adults living in Macomb and rural St. Clair counties. Partners: Chaldean American Ladies of Charity and the St. Clair Council on Aging.

Coalition on Temporary Shelter: $75,000 to support the program Meal Time, Family Time, a fine dining experience featuring locally grown and healthfully prepared foods and nutrition education for homeless children and their parents. Partners: My Sunday Brunch Catering and Real Talk Counseling Services.

Detroit Area Agency on Aging:  $72,000 to pilot the expanded use of existing available commercial kitchens to provide more group and home-delivered meals to seniors and to encourage intergenerational nutrition programs. Partners: Association of Chinese Americans, Restoration Towers, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Fresh Corner Café and Precise Home Health Care.

Detroit Friendship House Inc.: $31,000 to support a community garden in Hamtramck to provide access to healthy produce to children from diverse backgrounds while teaching intercultural and intergenerational collaboration. Partners: Oakland University’s Student Organic Farm Program, People’s Community Services, Children’s Clinic of Michigan and Bromberg and Associates.

Eastern Market Corporation:  $75,000 to pilot a youth and senior transportation program to increase participation in Market activities like Red Truck Fresh Produce and Gratiot Central Market. Partners:  Riverfront East Congregational Initiative of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Wayne State University Center for School Health.

Greening of Detroit: $75,000 to create community gardens at public housing developments in Detroit. Partners: Forest Park, Woodbridge, Riverbend and Sojourner Truth housing centers in Detroit.

Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County: $75,000 in support for increased nutritious food delivery to older adults in Washtenaw County, particularly those with health-related or religious dietary restrictions. Partners: Yad Ezra and Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels.

Macomb County: $75,000 for a fresh food mobile pantry to increase food distribution among low-income seniors and children throughout Macomb County. Partners: Macomb Community Action, Macomb County Health Department, Michigan State University Extension and the Macomb Food Program.

Monroe County Opportunity Program: $75,000 to increase healthy food access for youth and seniors across the county by creating mobile markets and a food pharmacy, initiating a Monroe County Food Policy Council, and working with farmers to expand their growing season. Partners: YMCA of Monroe County, Arthur Lesow Community Center, ProMedica Regional Hospital, Family Medical Center of Michigan, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems/ENP & Associates and Ruhlig Farms.

PACE Southeast Michigan: $65,000 to support Grow Healthy Seniors, a comprehensive educational program that includes gardening, cooking and increased access to fresh produce in the tricounty region. Partners: Elder Law of Michigan, Peaches and Greens, and Keep Growing Detroit.

St. Patrick Senior Center, Inc.: $75,000 for a farm-to-table strategy to improve congregate meals and encourage healthy food choices for seniors in Wayne County and to involve special needs youth in the growing of food. Partner: Rising Stars Academy.

Township of Canton, $21,000 for a transportation program for seniors and nutrition education for seniors and families. Partners: Canton Farmers’ Market, Huron Valley Ambulance and Canton Place senior apartments.

Wayne-Metropolitan Community Action Agency:  $43,000 to build greenhouses and provide technical support for youth- and senior-focused community partners in western Wayne county. Partners: The Guidance Center, People’s Community Services and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.

For more information about Healthy Food Connect, visit


The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs.  Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $843 million through more than 57,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.  For more information, please visit      

The mission of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund is to improve the health of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of health care, with special emphasis on the health and wellness of children and seniors. Proactive funding areas include behavioral health, healthy aging and nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The fund was created as part of 2013 state legislation that allowed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to become a nonprofit mutual health insurer. The Health Fund has awarded more than $50 million in grants since its creation.  Additional information about the Michigan Health Endowment Fund can be found at