Bringing Food Closer to Home: Evaluating Five Years of Building Inclusive Food Systems with Michigan Good Food Fund
By Mary Donnell, Technical Assistance Manager
Five year ago, we and several organizations saw the need to expand inclusive food systems and access to healthy food for communities across Michigan.
We know the importance of having access to healthy food within close proximity of home. Along with affordable housing and quality health care and education, it makes up the backbone of an individual or families’ ability to thrive and build wealth and opportunity for future generations.
But for too long, systemic disinvestment in communities of color have not only limited healthy food options, but have created barriers to entrepreneurs serving their community. The struggle we have seen in the face of COVID-19 further underscores the results of these challenges.
To address these issues, we worked with our partners to create the Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) in 2015. This $30 million public-private partnership loan program provides financing to good food enterprises working to increase access to affordable, healthy food in underestimated and underserved communities in Michigan.
Through this first-of-its-kind initiative, the MGFF created an ecosystem of financial and technical assistance products and programs to build a more inclusive food system throughout the state. This included support to food enterprises along the food system value chain, reflecting a commitment to increasing healthy food access while also creating economic opportunity—both of which have long been lacking in communities of color.
Additionally, as an organization with a serious commitment to racial and social equity, we collaborated with partners to create ways to center, advance, and operationalize justice in all facets of MGFF work, from processes to products.
As we celebrate the fifth birthday of this initiative, we felt it was important to share an independent evaluation of our work. We invite you to learn more about our multidimensional partnership and read about the lessons we have learned on the journey to create a more inclusive food system.
What Did Our Evaluation Find?
From 2015 through 2020:
- MGFF served 400+ businesses through technical assistance, Catalytic Investment and Technical Assistance Awards, and loans.
- More than 400 businesses received MGFF technical assistance, 97 businesses received MGFF Catalytic Investment and Technical Assistance Awards totaling $1.2 million, and 36 businesses received MGFF loans totaling more than $15.7 million.
- The MGFF has a strong commitment to supporting good food businesses led by people of color and women, and 69 percent of businesses receiving awards were led by people of color and 50 percent were led by women, and 53 percent of loans were made to businesses led by people of color and 61 percent to businesses led by women.
- The strong collaboration among the nine MGFF organizations providing financing from $2,500 to $6 million and robust technical assistance has strengthened good food businesses’ growth, and resilience, and fostered more sustainable, inclusive food systems and economies across Michigan.
Read our evaluation to learn more about how MGFF supports inclusive food systems across Michigan.
For nearly 40 years, Capital Impact Partners has worked to support communities to have increased access to healthy food and inclusive food systems. We have long championed the healthy foods movement, including securing $20 million in key federal grants through the CDFI Fund Healthy Food Financing Initiative over the past decade. We have leveraged these awards to deploy $185 million to 88 food enterprise locations that serve over 1.1 million people across the country. In addition to creating access to healthy and affordable food in areas that have been subjected to systemic disinvestment, this work also creates jobs and economic opportunities in communities.
Our Michigan Good Food Fund Partners
The four Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) founding partners are the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Capital Impact Partners, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and Fair Food Network. The partners were joined by lenders Northern Initiatives, Detroit Development Fund, Lake Trust Credit Union, Michigan Women Forward, and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women. This nine-organization collaborative allows MGFF to provide technical assistance to businesses throughout the food value chain and lending from $2,500 to $6 million to mission-aligned Michigan good food businesses.