December 3, 2018

Monday, December 3, 2018

Additional Food Heading to MI Food Banks

There’s extra food heading to Michigan food banks this month, a direct result of the tariffs placed on American grown food by China.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in August it was purchasing $1.2 billion in food from farmers as a short-term relief strategy for those who would have otherwise sold their crops to China.

Now that extra food will be distributed nationwide through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and child nutrition programs.

The Washington Post reports that the USDA typically “distributes 700 million pounds of food through state officials to the nation’s largest food bank network, but that number is expected to more than double this year under the administration’s program.”

There are concerns surfacing nationwide from food banks and programs as they prepare for the influx of additional food.

CMF reached out to the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) to learn more about the impact the additional food will have on food distribution and the communities the food banks serve.

Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of FBCM told CMF that they expect to receive 6 million pounds of food in the first quarter of 2019. The food will then be distributed to FBCM’s seven food banks and programs around the state.

FBCM’s network will distribute 80 percent of the food that our state will receive.

Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, which is in FBCM’s network, said they will be receiving 1.4 million pounds of food between now and March.

Gerald Brisson, president and CEO for the food bank said they are not considering this food a surplus.

“The increased bonus closes the gap we saw last year in overall USDA food donations, and it will be very helpful in addressing the significant food insecurity gap that persists in Southeast Michigan,” Brisson said. “While we will be getting more food in the near-term it should be emphasized that it’s not a surplus; it helps us to cover the deficit created when USDA donations were down last year so there is a definite need for this food.”

Another FBCM network member is Feeding America West Michigan, which services 40 counties in the state, including the UP.

“This will be a great help to our families in need in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula,” Ken Estelle president and CEO, Feeding America West Michigan told CMF. “Our challenge is that with the additional products come significant additional costs for storage, handling and transportation to our communities. Although the USDA has allocated some additional funding for this purpose, we are still expecting to need to raise other funds to help manage the distribution of these products.”

FBCM’s cost to move and distribute food is typically about 15 cents per pound of food. The additional government funding to help offset costs includes a $2,000 allowance for every truckload of food, which Knight said is equivalent to about a nickel per pound of food.

“I think it’s important to say, ‘Thank you.’ This is a lot of food and it does create some challenges for us but it’s a lot of food,” Knight said. “The bottom line is it affects the communities and affects the clients in a very positive way so the logistical challenges it brings, we’re going to sort through and figure out.”

Knight said due to the food surplus the FBCM won’t buy as much food from Michigan farmers and other food vendors as they typically would.

“It’s a blessing but it comes with some challenges and it comes with some unintended consequences as well,” Knight said.






Community Journalism on the Rise

Connecting people with information about what’s happening in their community to make informed decisions has become a growing challenge in many parts of the country.

The media landscape has been rapidly changing since the early 2000s, particularly since the 2008 recession. Local newspapers and television stations have been forced to adapt their business model to shifting revenue patterns based on how people consume news.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows:

  • Newsroom employment (in newspapers and television) dropped nearly 25 percent in less than a decade.

  • Newspapers have been the hardest hit. For instance, in 2017, 39,210 people worked in newsrooms, a 15 percent drop since 2014 and a 45 percent drop since 2004.

With continued newsroom layoffs, there’s less staff to provide comprehensive local coverage. In addition, the digital age has forced some newspapers to close shop all together.

In addition to those challenges, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation published research which showed the public’s declining trust in the media. The foundation’s report shows that 69 percent of adults who participated in the survey say “their trust in the news media has decreased in the past decade.”

This decline in newsroom capacity and  trust from the public present real challenges in ensuring communities receive comprehensive local coverage and information on local issues and that its being viewed as factual and accurate.

We are seeing philanthropy supporting innovative approaches to address these challenges to ensure this critical public service continues.

CMF member, The Knight Foundation, has been working deeply in the area of building capacity and support for factual nonpartisan reporting.

“An informed citizenry is essential for a well-functioning democracy. Local news organizations ensure the people can determine their best interests,” Alberto Ibargüen, president of The Knight Foundation said.

The Knight Foundation has produced a robust body of resources and research around the challenges facing journalism and solutions the foundation is funding to create systemic change.

The foundation provided $500,000 this year to support collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting and local newsrooms.

Earlier this fall, the foundation announced a new $20 million national fund in collaboration with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism to strengthen local journalism for the digital age, with a focus on areas where news organizations are facing challenges.

The Knight Foundation isn’t alone. We are seeing growth in an emerging brand of journalism, community journalism, supported in many cases by philanthropy.

Community journalism is generally defined as locally-oriented news coverage focused on city neighborhoods or small towns which highlights issues facing the residents and lifts up solutions.

Issue Media Group (IMG), based in Detroit, was named one of the 18 newsrooms in the U.S. to receive grants from the Community Listening and Engagement Fund, funded in part by the Knight Foundation.

IMG is a media company that “publishes local online magazines about growth, investment, and the people leading cities across the country into the new economy.”

In addition to Knight’s grant to IMG, at least 10 CMF members are supporting IMG digital publications in their region.

Epicenter, a weekly IMG publication which launched in August, is supported by the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation.

“Joining with several funding partners throughout our county, we have been able to offer an alternative news source that focuses on positive news about local people, emerging assets, economic and community development,” Amanda Schafer, executive director, Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation told CMF. “The stories told feature entrepreneurs with creative ideas, businesses making big waves far beyond our county borders and community problem solving through philanthropy. Epicenter highlights the very best of who we are and the incredible place we live, work, learn and play.”

We’re seeing these publications launching around the state.

The Midland Area Community Foundation supports Catalyst Midland, an IMG publication.

“In the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community study, places with the highest levels of community attachment have the highest rates of local economic growth,” Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO, Midland Area Community Foundation said. “We also know that talent attraction is critical to the success of our area. Telling these stories is essential to attracting and retaining talent.”

Another example is Flintside, supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation and Community Foundation of Greater Flint, which covers economic development, neighborhoods, health and transportation in the Flint area.

Want more?

Check out The Knight Foundation’s collection of research and work in journalism.






#GivingTuesday Surpasses $1B in Online U.S. Giving

#GivingTuesday announced late last week that it has reached a major milestone. Since its inception in 2012, more than $1 billion has been raised online in the U.S. alone.

“When we first conceived of #GivingTuesday, we imagined a way to use people’s collective power to overcome what divides us and unite behind our shared values,” Henry Timms, executive director of 92Y and co-founder of #GivingTuesday said. “To now surpass a billion dollars in giving and volunteering is a testament to a global spirit of generosity that may not always make it into the headlines but is evident in every corner of America and around the world.”

The momentum of the global day of giving isn’t slowing down. For the seventh consecutive year it’s broken another record, resulting in the highest year of donations ever.

Here’s a look at the latest data from #GivingTuesday:

  • 27 percent increase in dollars donated

    • 2018: $380 million dollars raised

    • 2017: $300 million dollars raised

  • 40 percent increase in total gifts

    • 2018: $3.6 million in total gifts

    • 2017: $2.5 million in total gifts

“This is grassroots philanthropy. An outpouring of solidarity, generosity and optimism,” tweeted Asha Curran, chief innovation officer of 92nd Street Y in New York.

Blackbaud, a software and services provider for nonprofits that processes most of the online donations made in the U.S., shared its 2018 Giving Tuesday numbers. The donations they processed also set a new record, the highest yet in #GivingTuesday history.

Blackbaud’s data:

  • Blackbaud processed more than $62.6 million in online donations, a 2.8 percent increase from last year.

  • The average online gift Blackbaud processed was more than $147, a 9.8 percent increase from 2017.

  • 16 percent more social good organizations received an online donation this year compared to 2017.

In Michigan, many CMF members were busy with their own social media #GivingTuesday campaigns.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The Cook Family Foundation worked with 17 local nonprofits in a collaborative effort to #raiseUPshiawassee. The foundation shared that this collaboration provides a connection to each nonprofit so people can make donations or find volunteer opportunities. The foundation also shared this brief video produced by the Shiawassee Community Foundation. The community foundation was one of the supporting organizations in the collaborative effort, along with the Genesee United Way and the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce

  • Kalamazoo Community Foundation hosted their annual #GivingTuesday event at a nearby restaurant to kick off the giving season. Beyond giving, a portion of the proceeds from drinks went to the foundation’s Love Where You Live Fund. 

  • Michigan Women Forward shared videos on their Facebook page promoting the Facebook match for donations. The foundation shared that donor support will help provide adequate funding for the investigation and prosecution of suspects linked to the previously untested rape kits in Detroit as well as supporting women entrepreneurs.

Want more?

Check out the resources to get involved in Giving Tuesday 2019.







Ford Motor Company Fund supports ‘freight farm’

Content excerpted and adapted from The Detroit News. Read the full article.

The Ford Motor Company Fund, a CMF corporate member, donated a 40-foot shipping container to be used as a freight farm to grow vegetables for those who are experiencing homelessness.

It’s part of a $250,000 grant to Cass Community Social Services through the Ford Motor Farm project.

With the use of a hydroponic system and LED lighting, the farm operates without pesticides, sunlight or soil. It also uses 90 percent less water than an outdoor garden.

It will produce vegetables for 700,000 meals.

“It means fresh produce all year round, which is really huge,” Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services said.

The project was the idea of a “Thirty under 30” team, Ford’s philanthropic leadership program, according to Jim Vella, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services.

The group initially thought to create a farm in the bed of a Ford F-150, and that idea evolved into the idea of growing vegetables inside a shipping container.

Cass Community Social Services received earlier this year a Ford F-150 with a garden bed that is used to teach healthy eating habits at local schools. The Ford Mobile Farm runs during the spring and fall.

As for the freight farm, the first crops will be ready within the next few weeks.

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