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Gov. Whitmer's Food Security Council Issues Recommendations to Ensure Michigan Families Have Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food


March 3, 2022 



Gov. Whitmer's Food Security Council Issues Recommendations to Ensure Michigan Families Have Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food  


LANSING, Mich. - Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Food Security Council released their final report which includes recommendations to decrease food insecurity in Michigan and highlights the swift action the state has already taken to improve this issue. Recommendations include increasing funding for fresh food through local and regional programs, increasing feedback from Michiganders who use community food programs, and ensuring Medicaid beneficiaries, such as those with diabetes, can access medically appropriate food.  


"Putting Michiganders first means making sure they can access healthy, affordable food, especially during hard times," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "Implementing the recommendations from the Food Security Council will help us build on the positive momentum we have and find more ways to feed Michigan families during challenging times. I thank the members of this council for their hard work and creative solutions to an issue that affects the entire nation. I will continue working with anyone to make sure Michigan families can access healthy, affordable food." 


Governor Whitmer created the council in August 2020 and appointed Dr. Phil Knight of the Food Bank Council of Michigan as chair. The council?consists of the directors of the state departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the superintendent of public instruction, or their designees, as well as 16 other appointees.? 


The council is part of the governor's ongoing efforts to improve food security in Michigan, which have expanded as families have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the Governor requested and gained approval to increase monthly food assistance benefits for families and worked with the federal government to make Michigan the first state to gain federal approval for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program. The program, which reached more than 1 million students, provided nutritious food to children who were affected by school closings due to COVID-19.?? 


The Food Security Council's report provides recommendations that are broken down under three main recommendations:   

  • Increase availability of healthy, fresh food 
  • Understand and support Michiganders experiencing hunger 
  • Improve navigation to connect to food and nutrition programs  


Under the three main categories, there are 11 more specific proposals that include: 

  • Increasing funding for fresh food through local and regional programs. 
  • Increasing feedback from Michigan residents who use community food programs. 
  • Improving access to food that meets the medical needs of certain Medicaid beneficiaries, such as Michiganders with diabetes. The report recommends Michigan pursue a federal waiver that would allow Michigan to develop a pilot program that addresses the social determinants of health for Medicaid beneficiaries. The program would include evidence-based interventions that improve access to medically supported food and nutrition services, such as medically tailored meals that are home-delivered to the homes of patients with diabetes. Improving infrastructure for food insecurity screening and referral in health care organizations. 


"Our department continues working hard to provide easier access to nutritious food so that Michigan families can be healthy and successful," said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel. "We will work to heed the valuable advice from our partners from the Food Security Council, and continue to collaborate with our partners to ensure that people in Michigan can put food on the table."  


"Members of the Food Security Council are passionate about this complex challenge because most of us see its effects on a daily basis," said Dr. Phil Knight, chair of the Food Security Council. "Families and individuals faced with food insecurity deal with toxic stress that impacts all parts of their lives - including their health and their ability to maintain employment and support their children. We appreciate Governor Whitmer's leadership in tackling the issue of food insecurity." 


While final statistics for 2020 are yet to be reported, estimates show that during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity increased to approximately 1.9 million people in Michigan, including 552,000 children. 


Cost-effective policies that enhance federal and state food and nutrition programs, increase charitable food assistance and clinically integrate food-as-medicine programs in health care have the potential to decrease food insecurity, the council said in the report. 


Food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits, school meals and pandemic-related waivers and flexibilities including Pandemic EBT have demonstrated favorable economic and health impacts. 


The Food Security Council final report can be found here


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