Our community is stronger when we work together. United Way has partnered with 30 local nonprofits and SVSU to form Midland County Hunger Connections—a collaborative designed to reduce barriers for the hungry. The goal of the group is to engage existing food security partners to foster ideas in which to collaborate to leverage resources, ensuring non-duplication of services. In collaboration with SVSU, a survey was conducted and the results assisted in illustrating our community’s food security needs and determining how our community can improve access.
The results of the survey show that food security—the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food—is an ongoing struggle for our neighbors in Midland County.
1 in 3 households in Midland County are struggling to meet basic needs, forcing them to make the difficult decision between paying bills and purchasing food for their family. Many of these families, adults and seniors fall in the ALICE population, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households have an annual income that is higher than the U.S. poverty level, but their total annual earnings aren’t enough to meet the basic cost of living for the county they live in. Combined, the number of households in poverty and ALICE equals the total population struggling to afford basic needs. This represents 32% of households in Midland County.
Food security is an issue for 59.2% of ALICE households in Midland County. Since these households don’t qualify for government assistance programs, they often have to make the difficult decision of paying for housing, utilities and transportation over purchasing enough food for their families. These families, adults and seniors—above the poverty line but still struggling to meet basic needs—don’t always ask for help with food insecurity. In fact, up to 30% of those in need are not utilizing resources that are available to them. That’s why United Way of Midland County and 211 NE Michigan are teaming up with area agencies to assist those in need of food resources to raise awareness of food insecurity as well as resources in Midland County. The solution to access is simple—call 211 and their helpful team will guide callers to the resources that can help.
We believe that no one should have to decide between paying for monthly expenses and having enough food to eat. United Way of Midland County works with over 30 local agencies who can assist those who are in need of food resources. Call 211 to get connected to the resources that you need. Don’t go without.
Produce from local community gardens will once again help supply Midland Fresh, the Mobile Farm Stand that debuted in 2017 that provides produce for all throughout the community at designated locations. Midland Fresh is an innovative solution to overcoming the transportation barriers to access healthy food. Serving people where they live, this collaboration brings fresh produce directly to neighborhoods across the City of Midland and Midland County on a weekly basis with the goal of “Healthy Food. Healthy Eating. Healthy Community.” Midland Fresh is also a product of collaboration within Midland County Hunger Connections and was spearheaded by Kurt Faust of Coach Step-Up, Inc., who built the mobile farm stand with Chris Shirk. Additional produce for Midland Fresh will be provided by Hidden Harvest and the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network.