Grant funding creates opportunities to encourage healthy eating

When St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital personnel contacted Robin Wiess, Michigan State University Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) program associate in Arenac County, asking her to team up with them on a grant opportunity, she enthusiastically rose to the challenge. The Michigan Center for Rural Health provided the $5,000 grant to establish and coordinate the “Healthy Arenac! EveryBODY Needs Proper Nutrition” program aimed at promoting healthy food choices and teaching safe techniques for preparing and preserving the art of canning, freezing and dehydrating fresh garden produce. The hospital matches the $5,000 to cover printing of materials, staff hours, advertising and other expenses.

 This past summer, Robin conducted four blanching, freezing and dehydrating classes. Lisa Treiber, Midland County Extension educator, presented three canning and food preservation classes. Each attendee received food preservation items and a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

 Part of the grant funds helps support health fairs at Arenac County middle schools.

 In addition, Robin wrote a grant to the Arenac County Fund to initiate Senior Project FRESH (Farm Resources Expanding and Supporting Health) in Arenac County for the first time last year and received funding again for this summer from them. The seniors love being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables they might not have been able to obtain otherwise.

 I really appreciate having examples like this to reinforce that being “entrepreneurial” isn’t just about getting millions of dollars in grant funding, but finding those special opportunities to bring local resources together to help us achieve our mission.

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