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MFB announces focus on eradicating childhood hunger, partnership with U-M to fight food insecurity

According to Feeding America, 2.1 million households in rural communities across the country face hunger and rural communities make up 87% of counties with the highest rates of overall food insecurity. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: August 4, 2022

After more than a year of dedicated research focused on the needs of Michigan communities and the history of charitable efforts across the state, the Michigan Farm Bureau family of companies (MFB) has announced its new For-Purpose model, focused on eradicating childhood hunger. 

To further that goal, MFB is partnering with University of Michigan (U-M) researchers to understand the unique challenges rural families face when accessing nutritious meals through food assistance. MFB has worked closely with U-M in the past to study health care access issues in rural settings. 

"While a lot of efforts related to solving hunger focus on urban settings, rural families face food insecurity as often as urban families do," said Kate Bauer, associate professor of nutritional sciences at U-M's School of Public Health who leads the U-M-based Feeding MI Families program she and her team developed.   

"If we look at Michigan's Top 10 counties for food insecurity, eight of them are in our rural counties, including all of northern Michigan,” Bauer added. “By elevating parent voices, we hope to build an equitable and responsive nutrition safety net for Michigan's rural families.”  

The Feeding MI Families project has engaged parents from Detroit, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek who have experienced food hardships, building their capacity for advocacy and community-based research. Over the remainder of 2022, these parent leaders will conduct surveys and interviews with 750 families in their communities. 

With MFB, Bauer's team will replicate its urban work across Michigan's 57 rural counties — including every county in the Upper Peninsula and northern lower Michigan.  

This month, parent leaders from these counties will survey 600 rural Michigan families to document their expertise and ideas for change. MFB will use their recommendations as a road map for future investments to eradicate rural child hunger. 

“This will not be a short-term pursuit, and there are not silver bullets to fix this condition that has plagued our communities for most of the century that we’ve been in existence,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County farmer. 

“There is no greater force than the sustained thinking and action of our members, agents, and team. Together we can, and will, make a difference in the lives of Michigan’s most vulnerable children, thereby building a brighter future for the entirety of our state.” 

The MFB family of companies plans to continue outlining new efforts, partnerships, and opportunities built around its goal of eradicating food insecurity in Michigan communities in the coming year. 

Media Contacts
Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]
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