Healthy Food Connect


Healthy Food Connect was a regional initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to increase healthy food access for children and seniors in the seven counties of southeast Michigan

Healthy Food Connect was a two-year initiative funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Community Foundation. Through grantmaking and a series of coordinated education and training efforts, Healthy Food Connect supported and grew exemplary existing healthy food access activities; extended the scope and geographic reach of successful programs; built on innovative activities that are testing new ideas; supported new collaborations; and provided widespread educational opportunities for organizations and, ultimately, children and seniors.


In August 2016, the Community Foundation made $2 million in grants to 20 programs designed to improve healthy food access for children and seniors, two groups most affected by food insecurity and the lack of healthy food.

The 20 programs funded reflect the collaborative efforts of 72 organizations across all seven counties of southeast Michigan.

Education and Training Series

In December 2016, the first of four education and training events was held at the Albert L. Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College.  Local and national experts discussed healthy food policy at all levels of government.  Resources from the event can be found here.

In March, a training on “Communications and the Art of Storytelling” was held at The University of Michigan. Resources from the event can be found here.

In November, Healthy Food Connect hosted an event focused on “Innovations in Food Access and Food Waste Reduction.”

Healthy Food Connect Leadership Grantees:

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: Fresh Corner CaféDetroit Food AcademyFoodLab DetroitEastern Market CorpHealthy DetroitDetroit Area Agency on AgingYMCA of Metro DetroitGroundwerx 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 partnersMichigan Farmers Market AssociationFair Food NetworkWayne 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. PartnersFoodCorpsDetroit School Garden CollaborativeWayne 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 WheelsAnn Arbor Meals on WheelsCommunity Action NetworkSOS 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 ProjectAssociated 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. PartnersForgotten Harvest, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and nine food pantries: Capuchin Services CenterCommunity Christian ChurchFood Hub at the Ford Resource and Engagement CenterHospitality House, Liberty Family Outreach, Lord’s Harvest PantryRedford 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 ArmyOakland Livingston Human Services AgencyLACASA and Gleaners Community Food Bank.


Healthy Food Connect Local Impact Grantees:

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 AmericansRestoration TowersTabernacle Missionary Baptist ChurchFresh 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 ProgramPeople’s Community Services, 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 ActionMacomb County Health DepartmentMichigan 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 HospitalFamily Medical Center of MichiganMSU 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 MichiganPeaches 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’ MarketHuron 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 CenterPeople’s Community Services and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.


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

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 founding in 1984, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $825 million through nearly 56,000 grants.

Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) engages the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in developing regionally integrated sustainable food systems. CRFS extends MSU’s pioneering legacy of applied research, education and outreach by catalyzing collaboration and fostering innovation among the diverse range of people, processes and places involved in regional food systems. CRFS plays a key role in coordinating progress on the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter, to assure healthy food access and increased local food commerce that provides economic and social benefits for all Michiganders. Programmatic work includes farm-to-institutions (including farm-to-school and farm-to-Pre-K), food hubs, local food councils, beginning farmers, organic agriculture and small-scale livestock supply chains.

Fair Food Network is a national nonprofit headquartered in southeast Michigan and founded on the belief that vibrant local food systems can create health and economic opportunity for all. With a diverse network of partners, the Fair Food Network pioneers solutions that support farmers, strengthen local economies and increase access to healthy food — especially in the most underserved communities. Central to their work is developing programs that create on-the-ground impact, are replicable, and inform policy change. While it is a national nonprofit, the Fair Food Network’s home state is a proving ground for innovation and provides an opportunity to knit together our efforts in healthy food incentives, fair food financing and policy change for the greatest impact. It is committed to southeast Michigan — a place with both great need and pioneering leadership in the good food movement.

Questions? Feel free to contact

Melissa Smiley

Special Assistant to the President and Strategy Officer

313.961.6675, ext. 103