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USDA Celebrates Michigan School Meals Program

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is hosting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean during her two-day visit, which begins today. Her visit will include three Michigan locales supporting healthy meals for students, local agriculture, and rural communities.

The first stop is Alward Elementary School in Hudsonville, where State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice and Deputy Under Secretary Dean will enjoy breakfast with students, staff, and school nutrition partners. Hudsonville Public Schools participate in the new state-funded Michigan School Meals Program, which allows Michigan public schools serving pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and participating in the USDA School Nutrition programs to provide students with one free breakfast and one free lunch daily.

“We appreciate Deputy Under Secretary Dean's help in supporting and highlighting the Michigan Schools Meals program,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “When all students are able to have healthy meals before and during school, they can spend their day focused on learning.”

For the 2023-24 school year, 100 percent of Michigan public schools are participating in the Michigan School Meals program, a program strongly supported by Governor Whitmer and the state legislature and administered by MDE and local districts across the state.  Michigan students are benefiting from the free meals. Recent school nutrition data shows that:  

  • in October 2023, over 6 million more breakfasts and lunches were served than in October 2022 (a 28% increase).
  • over 11 million more breakfasts and lunches have been served this school year (a 14% increase).
  • on average, more than 74,000 more students are eating breakfast daily (a 23% increase).
  • on average, more than 122,000 more students are eating lunch daily (a 19% increase).

For her second stop, Deputy Under Secretary Dean will travel east to Flint Fresh in Genesee County for a tour and conversation with partners. Flint Fresh is a full-service food hub that aggregates produce from 30+ farmers in the Genesee County area. The hub works to get more fresh and healthy foods on the plates of Flint and Genesee County residents through partnerships with local and regional farmers and distributors. In one location, it provides increased access to a larger market for suppliers and local products for buyers and thereby strengthens the local food system. Several school food authorities in and around Genesee County purchase from Flint Fresh.

“Students don’t need just any food; they need locally produced healthy food,” stated Melanie Brummeler, interim assistant director of MDE’s Office of Nutrition Services and a registered dietitian nutritionist. “When schools work with local farmers, the community and students benefit from using fresh, locally grown produce.” Teaching lifelong, healthy eating habits by introducing students to local produce not only supports Goal 3 of Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan to improve the health, safety, and wellness of all children but Michigan farmers as well.

The Michigan School Meals program collaborates with 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids and Farms to invest in Michigan children and agriculture. 10 Cents a Meal is Michigan's local food incentive program that gives extra dollars to School Nutrition Programs that purchase and serve fresh Michigan produce and dried beans to students.

Deputy Under Secretary Dean’s last stop will be on Friday, February 2, 2024, where she will join U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow at Detroit’s Eastern Market for a roundtable discussion on continuing support for many programs, such as universal school meals, rural school meals, school breakfast programs, and school equipment grants. Participants will include industry partners, parents, farmers, and school nutrition directors.

“We are so grateful that the Michigan School Meals program was approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer for fiscal year 2024,” said Dr. Diane Golzynski, deputy superintendent of MDE’s Division of Finance and Operations. “Michigan is on the list of states nationally that have passed universal meals. We want to ensure we stay on that list permanently, so we need continued legislative support.”

To learn more about the Michigan School Meals program, visit

 To learn more about Michigan’s 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids and Farms, visit

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