EAST LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan Brandon Fewins announced Wednesday of the investment of $1.5 million in Michigan communities through a partnership with the Reinvestment Fund.

The investments are being made through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which helps bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.

“This is another way USDA Rural Development is working with local business and cooperatives to help our communities,” said Fewins.  “We are committed to improving access to high quality, fresh food for all Michigan residents.”

Michigan has eight projects for a total investment of $1,509,344.39.

The Marks Trading Company, in Adrian, will use a $200,000 award to open a hybrid grocery store in an underserved community that will provide shelf stable products, canned goods, local products from entrepreneurs, and bulk foods, in addition to consignment products from local producers and farmers. The Marks Trading Company has been in operation since 2018 as a wholesale and online retail business specializing in non-perishable foods.

Sprout BC, in Battle Creek, will use a $200,000 award to establish a retail cooperative, Sprout Market and Deli, that will bring fresh food and produce to underserved neighborhoods. HFFI funding will be used to purchase and install grocery equipment necessary for the certified commercial kitchen and deli portion of the market. Sprout BC is a nonprofit focused on strengthening the local food system and advocating for food justice.

Develop Detroit will use a $200,000 award to construct a two-story, mixed-use building featuring the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, a cooperative grocery store owned by community members, as well as a commercial kitchen and community space for Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCSFSN), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing food security.  The HFFI funding will provide support within a larger capital structure for an energy-efficient building construction project.

Asbury Community Development Corporation, in Flint, will use a $200,000 award to support the acquisition and construction of Asbury Community Kitchen, a community-based intervention that addresses the need for fixed- and low-income residents to access fresh produce and healthy foods within a supportive context that includes educational resources. Asbury Community Development Corporation is committed to the local food system and improving community wellness.

South East Market, in Grand Rapids, will use a $110,000 award to support an expansion project to allow more space for a wider variety of retail food offerings, and a community/office space for community organizing.  South East Market is a grocery store and food hub with a mission to increase access to healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable food through a sustainable and equitable lens. SEM sources first from BIPOC, local and female-led businesses and farms.

Keweenaw Cooperative, Inc., in Hancock, will use a $200,000 award to support the relocation and expansion of the co-op’s existing operations to allow for expanded fresh offerings including meat, prepared foods and produce, as well as increased product selection and a sit-down cafe space. Keweenaw Co-op is a nearly 50 year-old consumer-owned cooperative focused on providing access to healthy, fresh and affordable food.

Northwind Natural Food Co-op, in Ironwood, will use a $199,344.39 award for capital improvements to make needed repairs and upgrades in order to increase operating efficiency, stock more inventory, and better serve customers.  Northwind Natural Foods Cooperative provides affordable, local and organic food items for residents in the Ironwood area.

Lakeshore Depot L3C, in Marquette, will use a $200,000 award to assist with the final phase of expansion and increasing the retail capacity of Lakeshore Depot. the Upper Peninsula’s only year-round local food market, which combines the best attributes of a grocery store, farmers market, and café.

Reinvestment Fund serves as the National Fund Manager for USDA. It raises capital; provides financial and technical assistance to regional, state and local partnerships; and helps fund projects to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved areas.