Farm to School Program in Michigan Proposal

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to media artifact(s) giving background on the issue. Please list the title of the artifact(s) and then make the title(s) a link to the page in the MSC site where the artifact has been posted. You may include media artifacts made by other MSC members, if relevant, even if they are not authors of this proposal.

Food Insecurity in Michigan 2. Persona and POV statement Persona:  Persona name: Leia Age: 13 School/occupation: Derby Middle School Location: Birmingham, MI   Quote: "Rise and Shine"   About:
  • Has four siblings

  • Has to go back and forth between her mom and dad’s houses

  • Loves music. Her two favorites are Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator

  • Hopes to one day wear clothes made by herself design all her own clothes

  • Remember to eat breakfast and pack a lunch every morning

  • Hopes to one day live a healthy lifestyle by eating more fruits and vegetables

POV Statement:

Leia is an eighth grader with a hard home environment. She needs more support in choosing healthier foods, since she does not have a good grasp on what nutrients are needed due to a lack of a healthy role model. Because she has to switch houses every week, she often forgets her lunch and the lunch options in her middle school are very unhealthy. 



3. Potential Solutions


SOLUTION 1: New Menu Design

One way to ensure that school meal lunches are effective and balanced is to hire nutritionists and dieticians to design the school lunch menus. Since students in lower income areas may not have the ability to see one of these types of doctors, they would be able to get a piece of their expertise through their schools. These menus would also be designed according NSLP and SBP standards. The government should hire experts to provide a sample lunch meal, furthering the idea that if a student does forget their lunch, they can feel confident that they are going to have an equally if not more nutritious meal as they otherwise would have. This could then be furthered by the idea of having a nutritionist come in a semester basis to make sure that the students’ diets are well balanced. This increases students’ access and awareness to healthy foods and helps develop healthy eating habits outside of school. 


SOLUTION 2: School Lunch Faculty Certification/Training

Students are encouraged to talk to guidance counselors, school nurses, etc. when they are having trouble at school. However, it is not legally mandated that these people are trained on the subject of health and nutrition. Michigan should adopt an approach to ensure that all faculty know how a student’s plate should be balanced, so when they do forget their lunches, they are able to educate the student on what to pick out in the lunch line. Nebraska has implemented a school lunch training and certification program, as well as online training through the tool Moodle. School staff being encouraged to adopt healthy eating habits in and outside school will help influence the students’ choices. This will help create a  healthy school culture.

SOLUTION 3: Fruit and Vegetable Variety

An effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable choice in children is through offering a variety of fruit and vegetables in the cafeteria.  Kids are more likely to select and consume  fruit and vegetables when they have the power to choose from different options. This study proves that serving an assortment of fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias is a simple and cost effective strategy to improve children's nutrition. Schools should hold sampling of different fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This way, the students get to choose what they want in the cafeteria. Creating a healthier school environment that helps kids develop healthy habits is important.



Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

This link talks about Michigan’s 10 cents a meal program. It includes what the program is, legislative reports, and other benefits for the program. This program essentially offers Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes to schools and incentivizes schools to invest in Michigan agriculture and related local food business economy. We are seeking to have this program be reconsidered for funding.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will make a difference in the lives of students in Michigan by providing them with healthier food options in the lunchroom. Our proposal will make a difference not only in the short term, but also in the long term. By showing students what constitutes as a good meal, we are providing long term lifestyle changes to make sure that they live long and healthy lives. We are also making changes in students awareness of healthy food options.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We learned about the issues underlying our proposal largely through personal experience and touching upon the topic in other classes.  Having gone to public schools in Michigan, we noticed our unhealthy lunch options growing up. We had the ability to bring our own healthy lunches from home, a privilege not all children have. It saddens us to see that the lunch options today in public schools have not changed. All children deserve access to healthy food at school. This gave us the idea to actually create a solution to the prevalent problem.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Our service activity through Project Healthy Schools has directly influenced our thinking about the proposal, as we are in the actual Ann Arbor schools observing the meals that are offered and talking with students. We have been able to see the foods that are offered, interact with the students, and get a first hand look at the meals that are offered in public schools. This has put a solidified experience to our proposal that we are excited to have.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Link to Media Artifact   


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Wren Beaulieu-Hack is a director at Hazon Detroit. Hazon is a Jewish lab for sustainability. The organization works to build a movement that strengthens Jewish life and contributes to a more environmentally sustainable world for all. Wren told us that for any large problem “You have to start with parts of a solution and not the whole solution. You cannot change it all at once because everything starts small”. We talked to her about our potential solutions and our worry about the cost. She explained that “any money put into food is actually saving money on health issues. There are extreme health costs that come from the prevalence of obesity and diabetes that people will end up paying anyway”. Wren concluded by saying how “supporting children’s health and teaching children because at some point the system needs to change”. This helped us think about the small but impactful changes we could make in the school lunchrooms in order to promote health.

CONSULTATION 2:  Diane Conners is a senior policy specialist at Groundwork. She has been advancing Groundwork’s food and farming program. She focuses on inspiring schools to use local foods in cafeterias and launched the 10 Cents a Meal program. This program increases the amount of healthy, locally grown food on school children’s plates. She said that “this cutting edge program is investing in local food for children and engaging children in eating healthy and local foods. This creates an opportunity for educational activities while building childrens’ health and the economy”. Talking to Diane helped us understand the development of the program and how it went from a pilot program to a state-wide program. Since Diane has worked very closely with the program, she was able to provide us with valuable insights on how to better craft our proposal.

CONSULTATION 3: Clinical Psychologist, Susan Gottlieb, specializes in the treatment adolescents specifically with eating habits. “I see a lot of children come into my office that have unhealthy eating habits. I believe that this largely stems from the practices they are taught in schools at such an early age. For example, when students have the option of taking a cookie or a bag of chips at lunch, they associate that with having to have a cookie or a bag of chips at every meal, which is neither sustainable nor healthy. The greatest issue to tackle here is how to change the options in the school lunch rooms so that they are still fun, tasty foods, but also ones that create habits these kids will have for the rest of their lives.” This helped us think about how habits develop and school being a great place for a health intervention to be developed.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Through our conversation with Devin, he suggested that we include more detail about the conversations in our consultation write ups. his helped us gain more valuable insight from the people we have talked to. It was helpful for us to link what our consultations taught us and our proposal. He also gave advice about how the state representatives “like to see how [our] conversations with experts or people close to the issue have impacted [our]  thinking and final solution”. This helped us realize how important our consultations are and the impact they have in our proposal. This conversation also helped us to do one last consultation over the course of the editing period between the first and final drafts. Diane Conners, a specialist in 10 Cents a Meal, spoke with us about the program, her thoughts, and gave us other facts that we could not find online. This consultation actually paved the way for the edits to our proposal, so we were very thankful for this feedback!

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Our research process began with laying out the information we already knew about the issue surrounding food insecurity and unhealthy school lunches. After this, we decided to find concrete numbers about the issue, such as how many children are food insecure, specifically in Michigan. These numbers went largely into our media artifact. While this was going on, we started our community service for this class, which allowed us to supplement our findings with first hand experience. Once we got to the solutions aspect of the proposal, we did even more research into the issue. This involved finding success stories within other states in the US. We were able to find these success stories and tailor them into 3 possible solutions for the problem, specifically for Michigan. We were also able to speak to three people, two of which are professionals and the other being a student who has experienced this type of inequality. We spoke to Wren Beaulieu-Hack, who is a professional in the sustainability industry. In addition, we spoke to a recent middle school graduate who was able to share his first hand experience. Lastly, we were able to talk to a clinical psychologist who specializes in adolescent eating habits, who stressed the importance of starting habits early on in life. We have always been set on finding a better way to provide students with healthier school lunches, thereby reducing food insecurity. 

Though we luckily did not come to any dead ends, our proposal shifted during the week of editing the first draft to the final draft. We realized we were spreading ourselves extremely thin, and through talking with Michael, decided to zero-in on farm to school lunches. Our research process then continued, where we did a ton of research into Michigan’s 10 cents a meal program, why it got cut from funding, and how we can propose to reimplement it. Michael helped us to see a new direction for our proposal to go, and we were able to find the research to go with it.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

To begin our proposal, we began to do all of the research and brainstorm ideas. We found all of the data and research to back up our ideas as well as the solutions together. In terms of consultations, we did one together, and the other two separately based on our connections. Sophie Curhan took responsibility for contacting Wren Beaulieu-Hack and Diane Conners, while Sophie Davis took responsibility for contacting Susan Gottlieb. When we were ready to write the formal proposal, we wrote it together using a google doc. This allowed us to contribute equal amounts throughout the proposal process. This also allowed us to have both of our voices heard throughout the entire proposal. The last thing we would like to add, is that we both contributed to communicating with our teachers and topic coordinators. Having both of us in attendance at the meetings propelled our proposal even further. Overall, our proposal was extremely collaborative, which we think was beneficial in the end.


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... 32.6% of children in Michigan are overweight or obese, compared to a national average of 31.3%, making Michigan children susceptible to health complications later in life such as Type 2 Diabetes. 

WHEREAS.... Most school lunches rely heavily on high-calorie, low-nutrient food, because it is putatively more cost effective. However, the foods that are currently offered have been shown in many studies to negatively impact students' grades, performances, behaviors, and moods

WHEREAS.... A majority of schools in Michigan do not participate in farm-to-school lunch programs, even though Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation  

WHEREAS.... Farm-to-school lunches improve public health by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by up to 1.3 servings, increasing food security and positive diet changes, and minimizing diet-related diseases such as childhood obesity and diabetes

WHEREAS.... Farm-to-school lunches improve economic development by creating 1.67 jobs for each new farm-to-school program, lowering school meal costs, and increasing farmer income by 5%

WHEREAS.... The initial indications from a similar farm-to-school program in Oregon has impacted over 240,000 students, increasing their awareness on healthy food and allowing them to develop healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives

WHEREAS… 10 Cents a Meal improves children’s daily nutrition and eating habits through the school setting while investing in Michigan’s agriculture and the related local food business economy

WHEREAS.... 10 Cents a Meal program in Michigan provided schools with 67 new Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and dry beans, all of which were tried by students for the first time.

WHEREAS.... 10 Cents a Meal program in Michigan doubled the state’s investment in the program due to match funding, adding over $4M into Michigan’s economy in 2018-2019.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. The State of Michigan recommit the funds and reimplement the 10 Cents a Meal program.


2. Schools will be provided with up to 10 cents per meal in incentive match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Reinstating this program will afford Michigan the opportunity to assess its impact and give an indication of its effectiveness.

3. The program will include a data collection and assessment component with the purpose of analyzing the impacts of 10 Cents a Meal. This will allow the State of Michigan to obtain results and refine the program after 5 years, leading to an overall improvement of the effectiveness of the program.


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Eating healthy food and having healthy habits is ultimately a behavior and choice of children and parents. A school cannot influence or intervene in what parents feed their children.

2. It is more expensive to obtain locally grown food, and this could become a financial burden on the State of Michigan

3. There is a potential lack of products available at certain times of the year, making it expensive to provide produce year-round.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Reimplementing the 10 Cents a Meal program in Michigan would cost the same amount that the program was when it was first proposed. 10 Cents a Meal spent $773,830 on Michigan grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. For our program to be implemented statewide, it has been calculated that $2 million in funding is required. To compare to other successful programs, Oregon’s farm to school program has a budget of $4.5 million, and is expected to grow to $15 million by 2021. We expect this program to be paid for by the state of Michigan through taxpayer dollars. Those who may object dedicating resources will be those who don’t see the connection between the classroom and the cafeteria. They might not want to dedicate resources to a program focusing on healthy eating, even though there are proven to be physical, economic, and community-focused benefits. We believe that the economic and public health benefits outweigh the costs of this proposal. This is a win-win situation for students and Michigan farmers: students are gaining access to healthier foods while farmers are adding more money into the economy. This is actually a gain in both economic and non-monetary opportunities.


These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

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