PONTIAC, Mich. (FOX 2) - Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter announced $950,000 in food assistance grants at the Oak Park Farmers Market, which will help eligible Oakland County residents access nutritious food.
As grocery prices continue to inflate, many families are struggling to bring food to the table. Coulter says that their goal is to reach any Oakland County resident struggling with food insecurity.
"We don’t want our families to scrimp on other essentials, like rent or utilities or medicines, so they can make sure they don’t go hungry," Coulter said.
The Pontiac Community Foundation and Lighthouse will dispense $700,000 in food security assistance from the Oakland County American Rescue Plan Act funds.
"We are overwhelmingly grateful for Oakland County’s commitment to provide critical food assistance for residents," Pontiac Community Foundation CEO Dustin McLellan said. "As the pandemic rages on and cost-of-living expenses continue to rise, many families are still struggling to have their basic needs met. We look forward to partnering with food providers across the county, to provide help and support where it’s needed most."
The county will also set aside $250,000 to the Double Up Food Bucks program. This program will double the money for fresh produce at farmers markets for people eligible for food assistance. ARPA and the Double Up Food Bucks program both strive to address the critical need to address food security and increase access to healthy food.
Coulter also announced that the county is partnering with the Poverty Solutions Initiative at the University of Michigan to conduct an extensive healthy food system landscape study. The study will look at everything from healthy food systems and providers in Oakland County, to the role that urban farms and farmers play in providing nutritious food to households. The study will also examine transportation routes and how it may be difficult for some families to access grocery stores.
"In the wealthiest county in Michigan, more than 11% of our children are listed as food insecure, up from 8% before the pandemic, and it’s not just in the cities with greater poverty numbers that are affected," Coulter said.
The Oakland County Health Division has established several food assistance programs in the community. These include:
Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a supplemental program that provides food benefits, nutrition and breastfeeding education and support to pregnant women and children under five. WIC Project Fresh provides a $25 booklet containing $5 coupons to WIC participants. These coupons can be used through Oct. 31 at authorized farmers markets and roadside stands throughout Michigan, including at the Oak Park Farmers Market which hosted today’s announcement.