In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City is announcing the launch of a fundraising campaign to raise $30,000 for its newly created Local Food Relief Fund. The fund will help emergency food providers in eight counties purchase produce from farmers in Northwest Lower Michigan.

Food pantries are expecting a tremendous surge in demand as out-of-work families struggle to put food on the table during this time of historic economic upheaval, while local farmers are facing significant disruption to revenue projections due to the loss of restaurant, school and farmers market sales.

To achieve regional distribution of the food, Groundwork has partnered with three respected emergency food providers: the Northwest Food Coalition, Manna Food Project and Food Rescue, a Goodwill of Northern Michigan program.

100% of funds donated to the Local Food Relief Fund will go to the purchase and delivery of locally grown food. Groundwork will retain no administrative fees. Groundwork has also deployed its internally developed nonprofit crowdfunding site to easily accept online donations.

The Local Food Relief Fund produces multiple benefits from every donation.

  • One, by purchasing from local farmers, the dollars directly support farm family income at a critical time when key agricultural revenue streams—restaurants, farmers markets and schools—are vanishing due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Two, by distributing local food through food pantries, the dollars provide high quality, nutritionally dense food to families hit with layoffs and scaled-back paychecks. Good nutrition is central to maintaining mental and physical well-being in times of stress.
  • Three, by keeping purchases local, donations stay in the regional economy, create positive economic ripple effects, and strengthen food supply chains for all of us.

“Groundwork held an all-staff meeting and we asked ourselves, ‘What is the best thing Groundwork can bring to this crisis?’” says Meghan McDermott, Groundwork’s Director of Programs and leader of the initiative. “We decided our skills and partnerships in the local food movement could bring great value. The twin pillars of the local food movement—economic stability for farmers and healthy food for our people—will be extremely valuable today and even more valuable as the coming months unfold.”