County grant winners to build hoop house, bolster food pantries, and start kids' produce club

The Washtenaw County Health Department's Building Healthy Communities Program recently awarded $30,000 in total grant funding to Food Gatherers, Ypsilanti Farmers Markets staffed and funded by Growing Hope, and The Farm at St. Joe's. The grants will support a variety of new initiatives to promote healthy food in the community.


Building Healthy Communities supports policy, systems, and environment changes that support physical activity and healthy eating. Organizations granted awards must have a policy or environmental component that supports a systems change, and new criteria for this year determined winners must be located in or support specific communities of Ypsilanti.


"We're excited to be able to fund these programs and work with some of the local organizations for doing the great work of promoting healthy eating and food access," says Tedi Milgrom, health promotion coordinator with Washtenaw County Health Department. "We're grateful to be able to fund some of that work that addresses some of the inequities we see in the food system."


Food Gatherers' project will partner with agencies and food pantry clients to discuss improvements to hunger relief programs and how Food Gatherers can improve its programing and increase the amount of healthy food given to pantries.


Ypsilanti Farmers Markets will host the Power of Produce (POP) Club, an eight-week program for children to practice buying healthy food with $2 tokens every week.


The Farm at St. Joe's plans to expand its food production and programs for children and adults by building a new hoop house for growing plants. A hoop house is a structure with a hoop shape that acts as a greenhouse and can extend the growing season.


Amanda Sweetman, farmer at The Farm, says the additional hoop house will significantly improve operations for its Farm Share program, where community members can purchase produce and support local farmers. The program also provides produce to food insecure families in Washtenaw County.


"The farm share has gotten bigger than what we could put food into, needing to have 200 units of food per week," Sweetman says. "This grant and the new hoop house let us keep up with our program and serve more patients and more people with healthy food."


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at


Photo courtesy of The Farm at St. Joe's.

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