HEALTHY Muskegon Project Announces Grant Awards
Families and children living in the City of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights will have many new opportunities to access healthy, local foods, thanks to $240,000 in grants recently awarded by the HEALTHY Muskegon initiative. (HEALTHY is an acronym for Healthy Eating and Access – Local Teams Helping Youth). The three-year grants, administered by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County in partnership with Morse Marketing Connections, LLC, are supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Grants were selected based on the goals of increasing access to healthy local food, improving health behaviors, and improving health outcomes for minority children living in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights. Projects were required to be collaborative in nature, and grantees will attend ongoing network meetings to coordinate efforts for improved results.
Grants were awarded as follows:
Muskegon Public Schools, Pioneer Resources, and Community enCompass: This three-way partnership will allow students attending summer school at Muskegon Public Schools to participate in a “seed to table” initiative where students plant, nurture, and harvest the vegetables and fruits, and prepare the harvest for consumption in the school meals. Community enCompass will establish “McGrows Farm” using County provided land on the space between Apple and Delaware. Students in Muskegon Public Schools will use the garden as space to learn about growing food, but also as a means for life skills development. Pioneer Resources will collect food scraps from area schools both as an education tool and as a source for compost, which will nourish the soil for the urban gardens. In addition, Pioneer Resources will facilitate training and experiences in healthy cooking, food service and urban agriculture for students attending Wesley School as well as mainstreamed teens not likely to graduate – as identified by the MAISD.
Kids’ Food Basket and Coalition for Community Development: CFFMC is finalizing a grant to support a partnership between Kids’ Food Basket and Coalition for Community Development (CCD). Kids’ Food Basket is already providing sack suppers for the children attending Martin Luther King School in Muskegon Heights. Grant dollars support growing the fruits and vegetables in the sack suppers locally, utilizing neighborhood gardeners and gardens at both MLK and Edgewood school. Children attending the schools will be involved in the planting and tending to the garden beds, facilitated by a partnership with CCD and Muskegon Heights Charter School Academy. CCD will also coordinate workshops, events, and other resources for the children and families in Muskegon Heights.
Love Community Garden: Using green technologies such as solar panels for electricity, a hoop house to extend the growing season, and an electric bicycle for transportation, Love Community Garden – in partnership with the Fruitport Lions – will harness the energy of the many children attending their summer evening recreation program to expand the garden. The garden is located adjacent to Nelson School in downtown Muskegon, and the increased produce yield will be sold to nearby neighbors. A portion of the harvest will be donated to Kids’ Food Basket.
Public Health Muskegon County: Utilizing a Mobile Food Cart, Public Health will provide demonstrations and recipes to residents at the Muskegon Farmers Market and food trucks, as well as other community events. Simple recipes will utilize the food present on the trucks or available in season, and will allow attendees the opportunity to sample the foods with the goal of trying new recipes, and incorporating them into a healthy diet.
West Michigan Therapy: A grant supports improvements to the garden located at the Transitional Living Center. The women living in the facility will tend the garden while simultaneously learning about meal planning and preparation.
Muskegon Family YMCA: A grant supports the small changes necessary to bring the YMCA’s kitchen up to code, allowing increased community use by the Y’s many community partners.