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In a bid to make to make fresh, local produce more readily available to Metro Detroit urban residents, the Associated Food & Petroleum Dealers (AFPD) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s “Select Michigan” program are launching a new “Buy Local, Eat Fresh” program.
“We have found that residents in some urban areas do not choose to include fresh Michigan produce in their diet as often as people in other parts of the state,” said Jane Shallal, AFPD president. "The 'Buy Local, Eat Fresh' campaign aims to change that,” said Shallal, adding that there are numerous contributing factors to the quagmire, including the lack of education regarding the nutritional benefits of local produce, the availability of these foods in some urban neighborhoods, and the cost of fresh foods.
The program will create a sustainable distribution system connecting Michigan farmers and food producers with wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and communities in one Pontiac and nine Detroit neighborhoods, thereby increasing access to fresh Michigan produce and promoting long-term social, environmental, health, and economic benefits, said Don Koivisto, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture. "The first step in creating the system is to create a demand for Michigan produce through an in-store branding program that includes signage, tastings and nutritional information."
Other project collaborators include Spartan Stores, Inc., Save-A-Lot Limited, Wayne State University Nutrition and Food Science Program, and the City of Detroit Department of Health and Wellness.
On the first two Saturdays of every month, from July through November, nutritionists from the City of Detroit Department of Health & Wellness and Wayne State University's Nutrition and Food Science Program will be present at ten grocery stores located in the targeted communities. Products will be available to sample, as the nutritionists provide information on the benefits of eating local produce, suggested recipes and menu planning advice.
"Ultimately, the program seeks a ten percent increase in the sale of Michigan-grown or produced foods over the ten targeted neighborhoods," Shallal added.
The 10 independent grocers participating in the program are:
-- Save-A-Lot, 15001 Houston-Whittier, Detroit
-- Save-A-Lot, 13750 Fenkell, Detroit
-- Save-A-Lot, 3681 Gratiot Ave., Detroit
-- Save-A-Lot, 4703 Conner, Detroit
-- Save-A-Lot, 1249 Baldwin, Pontiac
-- Krown Supermarket, 5800 Caniff, Detroit
-- Parkway Foods, 13210 E. Jefferson, Detroit
-- Farmers Food Center, 2411 Central Ave., Detroit
-- Pick 'N Save, 7404 E. 7 Mile, Detroit, MI 48234
-- Family Fair, 700 Chene St., Detroit
As the voice of the food, beverage and fuel industries in Michigan and Ohio, the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based AFPD represents nearly 4,000 retailers, wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers.