Statewide & Regional Partners

Taste the Local Difference is proud to partner with a variety of local and statewide organizations to further the growth of Michigan’s local food economy. If you’re interested in how a partnership might benefit your organization, please contact our Director of Community Partners, Kelly Wilson.

Fair Food Network

Fair Food Network (FFN) is a national nonprofit committed to growing community health and wealth through food. For over a decade, FFN has operated the Double Up Food Bucks program which matches, dollar for dollar, SNAP/EBT (Bridge Card) dollars spent on fruits and vegetables. Taste the Local Difference partners with Fair Food Network to build awareness  about Double Up Food Bucks in Michigan communities and to identify the barriers to, and opportunities for, local sourcing at independent retail grocers.

Learn more about how Double Up Food Bucks works here. Interested in getting more involved? Offer Double Up Food Bucks at your market or store or help spread the word about this impactful program.

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services

As the state’s health department, Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) provides opportunities, services, and programs that promote a healthy, safe, and stable environment for Michigan residents to be self-sufficient. They administer the state’s food assistance program (SNAP), connect mothers and babies to nutritious food through WIC, support healthy aging and more.

TLD partners with MDHHS on the Fresh Food Box program to support CSA farmers in adding e-commerce platforms and accepting SNAP/EBT payments. 

From Our Partners

Michigan Farmers Market Association

The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) was established in 2006 to promote local food consumption in Michigan by connecting farmers and consumers at farmers markets. In the last ten years, the number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown from about 90 in 2001 to over 250 today, making MIFMA’s work more important than ever. MIFMA supports farmers markets through state and federal advocacy, relevant training and education opportunities, communicating about policy and food safety regulations, and by helping markets accept food assistance programs.

Since 2017, MIFMA and TLD have worked together to provide complementary support to Michigan farms and farmers markets through statewide marketing efforts, educational events and joint grant proposals. 

Get to know Michigan Farmers Markets with MIFMA’s Find Your Market tool and explore their recipe library for inspiration on how to use your market haul.

Michigan Food and Farming Systems

Historically, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), women, veteran and new farmers have been left out of federal farm support programs. Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) works to level the playing field by supporting these farmers in navigating cumbersome state and federal grant/loan applications, creating networks for farmers to connect to their peers, and providing guidance through GAP and other food safety certifications farmers need to access wholesale markets. MIFFS also hosts the annual Family Farms Conference each winter to foster connection and community amongst a diverse group of farmers and support organizations. 

MIFFS and TLD collaborate on the Michigan Statewide CSA Network, various workshops and listening sessions, and more. The work we collaborate on supports farmers, especially beginning and BIPOC producers, in connecting to important resources.

Sign up for the MIFFS newsletter and become a partner today to stay up to date on their work, the annual conference, and the critical resources available to support small farm success.

Michigan Good Food Fund

The Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) is a statewide loan fund that supports good food entrepreneurs – from restaurants and value added producers to farms – working to increase access to healthy food and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most. They also provide general business assistance in the form of workshops and business boot camps and are close partners with Fair Food Network and MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems.

TLD and MGFF have collaborated even more during the pandemic through mini-grants for farmers, digital marketing technical assistance, and cross promotion.

If your food business is looking for financial assistance, or you know of one that is, fill out this form to learn more about MGFF opportunities.

Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

For more than a decade, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) has advanced regionally rooted food systems through research, education and outreach. They accomplish their mission by facilitating networks (Michigan Farm to Institution, Michigan Farm to Early Child Care and Education, Michigan Local Food Council Network, Michigan Food Hub Network) that are foundational to Michigan’s culture of collaboration in food systems work. CRFS also coordinates the Michigan Good Food Charter – a  guiding document for advancing a food system that supports food access for all, health equity, climate resilience, and farm and food business viability.

Click the links above to learn more about CRFS’ networks and how to get involved.

Small Business Development Center

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers free consulting services to small business owners on everything from starting a business, market research, financial management and succession planning. Businesses can receive support by attending free SBDC workshops or by working one on one with an SBDC consultant.

TLD works with regional SBDC offices to provide SBDC clients digital marketing technical assistance. This support ranges from logo creation and brand design to e-commerce setup and social media strategy development. During the pandemic, we’ve supported over 60 businesses through our SBDC partnership.

Want some support with your business needs? Find your regional SBDC office here.

Western U.P. Planning and Development Region

Since 1968, the Western U.P. Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) has been providing general planning support to foster stable and diversified economies in the six counties of the Western Upper Peninsula. Their work is diverse and varied and focuses on everything from energy and housing to recreation and food systems.

TLD and WUPPDR are project partners on a grant aimed at building the capacity for Farm to School in the Western U.P. and are coalition members of the  Western U.P. Food Systems Collaborative and the U.P. Food Exchange.

Learn more about WUPPDR’s important work here.

Eastern U.P. Planning and Development Region

The Eastern U.P. Planning and Development Region supports cities and counties with grant writing, land use and recreation planning, community and economic development and more! 

EUP promotes the region’s Farmers Markets by including them in TLD’s annual Local Food Guide and has also provided funding, when available, to subsidize TLD marketing services and consulting for regional local food entrepreneurs. 

Northeast Michigan Council of Governments

The Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG) was established in 1968 as a multi-county organization to pool resources for the assistance of local governments in the region. NEMCOG serves an 8-county region (Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego, and Presque Isle) with grant writing, land use and environmental planning,  economic & community development and more.NEMCOG has assisted local governments in the region to obtain millions of dollars in federal and state grants for vital local projects and services. 

TLD and NEMCOG have long been partners in local food systems development in Northeast Michigan. In 2016, NEMCOG provided the initial seed funding for TLD’s first Northeast Michigan Local Food Coordinator. Today, NEMCOG is a strong partner working alongside TLD to improve the regional local food system and supporting entrepreneurs in this sector to develop a thriving regional economy.

U.P. Food Exchange

The U.P. Food Exchange (UPFE) is a resource portal for farmers, businesses, and individuals looking to participate in the local food system. UPFE supports local food projects of all kinds, including policy work, community education, food safety, business development, farm to school, and more. Key to UPFE’s work is the UPFE Online Marketplace, a food hub that aggregates local food products for institutions and retail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

In the past, TLD and UPFE shared a team member to manage the UPFE Online Marketplace and UPFE related communications and marketing. Today, UPFE and TLD remain close collaborators on a variety of U.P. focused projects including a Western U.P. Farm to School project, Food SPICE, and more.

Check out UPFE’s resources here and sign up for their newsletter to stay connected.

Local Food Marketplace

Based out of Eugene, Oregon, Local Food Marketplace (LFM) provides technology to farms, food hubs and farmers markets to help them sell more locally grown food. Their team is rooted in the local food system, with lived experience in farming, farmers market management and food hub operations, and they believe that eating locally is fundamental to building a more sustainable world. Relationships are the foundation of their work and they strive to create technology solutions that provide opportunities and solve problems.

TLD and LFM are close collaborators in Michigan, and nationally. As part of this strong relationship, TLD partners (in MI) can receive a 15% discount on all LFM products (for setup and 1st year of subscription fees).