Governor’s Food Security Council

Tuesday June 8, 2021

1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Via Zoom

Minutes (Subject to FSC Approval)

Members Present via Zoom:  Dr. Phillip Knight (chair), Lewis Roubal (vice-chair), Patrice Brown, Alex Canepa, Kim Edsenga, Juan Escareno, Dr. Diane Golzysnki, Diana Marin, Dawn Medley, Steffany Muirhead, Ken Nobis, Dr. Delicia Pruitt, Tammy Rosa, Michelle Schulte, Laurie Solotorow, Wade Syers, Pam Yager, and Jamie Zmitko-Somers

Non-voting Members Present: Representative Witwer, Senator Daley

Members Absent: Todd Regis

Non-voting Members Absent: Senator Brinks and Representative Wendzel

Members via Teleconference:

Public Comment: No public comment.


  • Welcome and Introduction – Dr. Phillip Knight, Chairman of Food Security Council
    1. Meeting called to order at 1:00 p.m. by Lew Roubal
  • Approval of 5-11-21 minutes and 6-8-21 agendaLewis Roubal, Vice-Chair of Food Security Council
    • Motion by Dr. Diane Golzynski to approve 5-11-21 FSC meeting minutes and the 6-8-21 agenda, supported by Laurie Solotorow. Motion unanimously carried.


  • Presentation on the Legislative Perspective, and FSC Q&A – Representative Angela Witwer
    • Representative Witwer shared her story, connection, and passion with food security.
    • Phil Knight asked Representative Witwer to explain the filters that legislators use in order to review public policy recommendations.
      • Representative Witwer urged the FSC to consider fiscal responsibility when making recommendations based on the political climate in the legislature.
      • Representative Witwer suggested that the FSC find champions in leadership on both side of the aisle and keep educating them about their district.


  • Q&A
    • Lew Roubal asked Representative Witwer to elaborate on the importance of fiscal responsibly and the intersection of data usage on decision making and the impact that it has on the FSC.
      • Representative Witwer explained that both parties have data pulled for them all the time; however, some members find it overwhelming. She suggests that we make our recommendations and data palatable to legislators.
      • Representative Witwer suggests explaining the fiscal impact of food insecurity on the state.


  • Presentation on the Legislative Perspective, and FSC Q&A – Senator Kevin Daley
    • Senator Daley shared his story of being a 5th generation farmer and how solving hunger starts in the field.
    • Phil Knight asked Senator Daley to explain the filters on recommendations that legislators have to work thru to in order to create good policy.
      • Senator Daley shared that #1 thing is always financing – you must be able to fund projects that you want supported.
      • Senator Daley shared that doing what’s best for the people, but it must be sellable to get the other legislature members behind it. Grassroots policy movement is the best way to get the word out in the districts.
        • Patrice Brown inquired on how to get urban and rural farmers to stand with each other?
          • Senator Daley shared we can be powerful as a group and suggests that Patrice and / or colleagues connect with him to schedule a presentation to create more awareness amongst the legislature.
        • Lew Roubal asked Senator Daley for suggestions for the FSC while we craft our report? Senator Daley responded with the following:
          • CSA representation amongst the FSC – it helps connect the dots on where their food comes from.
          • Michelle Schulte discussed that CSAs have been a large part of the last mile efforts as it addresses the shortcomings.


  • Discussion – Workgroups report out top 5 policy Recommendations
    • Food Supply/Systems—Todd Regis and Jamie Somers-Zmitko
  • Jamie Somers-Zmitko shared that while their workgroup has not identified policy recommendations as of yet, the following is being brought to fruition:
    • Community gardens and food boxes – concerted efforts around the state.
    • Patrice Brown shared that the Racial Disparities workgroup is also looking at community gardens suggesting they see where their work intersects.
  • Emergency planning: a tabletop exercise to work thru how to ensure if a pandemic / disaster occurs again.
    • The MDARD – Emergency Preparedness team has crafted a timeline to add to our recommendations. Ideally have by this fall.
  • Overarching / cross sectors: around wages and ability to pay higher wages from certain groups and producers.
  • Ensuring we have a food processor database [elusive].


  • Policies – Lew Roubal and Kim Edsenga
    • Lew Roubal shared the following recommendations:
    • Expand Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in Michigan School Districts
      • Ensure that schools who have eligibility for free and reduced lunches take advantage of it.
      • Diane Golzynski shared that the program is underutilized and suggested we use power of the FSC to deconstruct free and reduced lunch applications and other assistance programs to better understand their interrelationship.
    • Increase funding for local and regional food programs.
      • This is “neighbors helping neighbors” with farmers donating local produce to schools.
    • Increase WIC Participation for Children’s Health Insurance Program Participants
      • 150,000 people that could benefit from this program but are not participating.

Capacity element regarding with WIC providers [health departments]. High return on a relatively high investment.


  • Issue a Statement of Support for Michigan’s Twelve Federally-Recognized Tribes in USDA Negotiations
    • Michelle Schulte explained that some nutrition standards are outdated and don’t take into account cultural or ethnic diversity. Food standards are not good enough for homeless and / or food insecure due to their immune systems and the need for healthier options.
  • Expand Childhood Nutrition Programs
    • Expand summer nutrition programs.
    • 10 cents a meal program is state funded and encourages locally grown produce.
    • Advocacy and education to create an increase programmatically.
  • Advocate for federal increase to 30% for SNAP’s Earned Income Disregard


  • Special Populations – Diana Marin and Tammy Rosa
    • Diana Marin and Tammy Rosa shared the following recommendations:
    • Increase Transportation
      • Expanding transportation options for seniors, adults with disabilities, homeless families and individuals, and families with limited or no car access to obtain food services. Identify current and future funding opportunities for organizations serving special populations to cover transportation costs.
      • Support driver’s license for all in Michigan so that immigration status is not a barrier to obtaining a driver’s license and accessing food services for children and immigrant families.
    • Increase Access to Nutritious and Culturally Food
      • Expand and establish funding to increase access to nutritious and fresh food by bringing food to communities with limited grocery stores and farmers market. For example, mobile food markets and home delivery of groceries.
      • Increase access to nutritious and fresh food by expanding the amount of money seniors, adults with disabilities, veterans, homeless families and individuals and families with school aged children receive to purchase food. For example, make food benefits a general benefit under all Medicare plans; remove veteran classification requirements to access food, expanding summer food benefits for children.
      • Support programs and organizations serving ethnically diverse communities to obtain culturally appropriate foods from diverse vendors.
    • Expand SNAP Access
      • Increase eligibility criteria for SNAP to avoid the “SNAP cliff” – consider proposing and support of legislation such as LB108, that was recently passed in Nebraska.
      • Encourage and fund partnerships with food banks/ community organizations to provide SNAP application assistance on college campuses, veteran events, schools, and other key locations for special populations groups.
      • Advocate for the expansion of SNAP to college students regardless of employment and/or increases in federal financial aid packages to better reflect the true cost of college.
    • Increase and support of educational campaigns related to food programs which focus on vulnerable special populations and those who serve them.
      • Provide budgeting education to individuals to encourage the purchase and utilization of healthier foods.
      • Provide cooking classes and information designed to introduce and support fresh and healthy food options.
    • Establishing an office for special populations within MDHHS to review MDHHS food benefits processes and procedures to ensure veterans, adults with disabilities, homeless individuals or families, and other special population groups can obtain wrap-around services. Modeled after the office of migrant affairs.
    • Racial Disparities – Alex Canepa and Patrice Brown
      • Alex Canepa and Patrice Brown shared the following recommendations:
      • The State should affirm the self-determination, existing capacity, and dignity of Indigenous communities. This includes Tribal consultation- both when required and as a standard organizational practice. This includes but is not limited to:
        • Recognize community-identified priorities
        • Establish process for ongoing feedback between SOM and tribal entities on issues relating to food security.
        • Develop metrics that are reflective of BIPOC worldview, culture, lifestyles, and concepts of health/wellness.
        • Promote and protect Indigenous foodways and land stewardship, including hunting, gathering, and fishing treaty rights.
        • Broaden environmental protections- land (soil), water, and air. Environments and ecosystem conservation should include the involvement of Indigenous cultures (and their practices) that steward these spaces.
        • Support indigenous land access and alternative or communal models of land tenure
        • Support culturally- based nutrition education programs in school and health settings.
      • Review policies for state grant-making and resource sharing to advance equity
        • Grant-making: While grant funding match requirements are designed to promote accountability and buy-in on the part of grant recipients, they often have the practical effect of compounding existing economic disparities. In Michigan, these economic disparities often reflect racial ones.
      • Language Access: A significant number of Michigan farmers (and the vast majority of farm laborers) are Latino/a. While some MDARD resources have been translated into Spanish, finding those resources requires navigating a webpage that is currently only available in English. MDARD’s website should be navigable in Spanish through a “Leer en Español” button on the site’s home screen.
      • Strengthen urban and peri-urban food supply chains through the following:
        • Infrastructure
        • Workforce alignment
        • Retail
        • Potential solutions
      • Foster Nutritional Self-Reliance in Public Institutions:
        • Give Michigan colleges and universities the financial resources they need to combat hunger on campus.
        • Support Horticultural Programs in State Prisons


  • Healthcare – Laurie Solotorow and Pam Yager
    • Develop a standardized SDOH screening and referral tool that identifies food insecurity and risk for food insecurity to align across all payers, providers, Medicaid, and community-based organizations.
    • Identify specific diagnostic code language related to food insecurity that integrates food insecurity strategies into a broader healthcare strategy and helps to identify food insecurity earlier in its cycle.
    • Request federal approval to cover services that address social determinants of health through a federal Section 1115 demonstration waiver that includes evidence-based interventions that improve access to healthy foods.


  • Client Perspectives – Lew Roubal and Michelle Schulte
    • Lew Roubal and Michelle Schulte shared the following recommendations:
    • Develop recurring approaches to solicit end user feedback from emergency food providers and community food programs.
    • Develop funding to support fresh food incentive programs and food delivery capacity for pantries.
    • Increase awareness and capacity of statewide education programming that teaches individual and families how store, cook, and prepare meal.
      • Provide text messaging notices, billboard, fresh EBT announcements, Facebook / social media announcements, Google, radio ads, mailers.
    • Develop a coordinate support system:
      • Streamline all public benefits through integrated service delivery using a single application [inclusive of MDHHS, MDE, and emergency food and community resources].
      • Provide education to support staff to increase awareness of across agency resources to help eligible families and individuals.


  • New Business
    • N/A
  • Review of next steps and action items
    • Dawn Opel shared that the FSC leadership team will be in touch with next steps for each workgroup for matchmaking and gap-filling.
  • Meeting adjourned at 3:01 p.m.